Nadal overwhelms 16-year-old Blanch in Madrid masterclass

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Nadal overwhelms 16-year-old Blanch in Madrid masterclass

Rafael Nadal dominated promising 16-year-old wild card Darwin Blanch to claim a masterful 6-1 6-0 victory in the opening round of the Mutua Madrid Open on Thursday.

Lefty Blanch was making just his second ATP Masters 1000 appearance in the space of five weeks after his tour-level debut on home soil in Miami.

But his 37-year-old idol Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion and a record five-time winner in Madrid, was in no mood for handing out gifts as he wrapped up victory in just 63 minutes.

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Watch American wild card Blanch fire down back-to-back aces against his idol Nadal

Home is where the heart is for Rafa

Rafael Nadal has registered his 57th win at the Madrid Masters, 20 more than the next best; it is the only tournament at which he has registered at least one win across 19 seasons in his career

Nadal’s power and prowess was too much for Blanch, who committed 27 unforced errors, including 20 off his forehand as the former world No 1 won 59 per cent of his return points and did not face a break point on his own serve.

He broke the American at the first opportunity in the second game before grabbing the first set in just 28 minutes.

The Spaniard, who last claimed the title on Madrid’s clay in 2017, broke again to take the lead in the second set and kept up the pace, giving a tennis masterclass to young Blanch.

“I think today I played against an opponent with a great future in front [of him], but today, still making mistakes. I just tried to be there, be solid all the time without taking a lot of risks,” Nadal said. “It worked well. I’m happy to be through and I wish him all the very best for the future.”

Nadal has said on several occasions this is set to be his final season on tour, but so far it has not panned out the way the Spaniard would have hoped.

He will play world No 11 De Minaur in the second round on Saturday.

The Australian defeated Nadal 7-5 6-1 in the second round of the Barcelona Open last week when the Spaniard was playing his first tournament since January.

Master vs Apprentice

16-year-old American Darwin Blanch taking on 37-year-old Rafa Nadal in Madrid is the biggest age gap in a singles match in Masters 1000 history

The age gap between the pair was 21 years and 117 days

‘Emotional feelings’ on Madrid return

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Nadal says he is enjoying being back at the Madrid Open for his 20th appearance following his win against Darwin Blanch

“Great feelings. Emotional feelings,” said Rafael Nadal, speaking to Sky Sports Tennis. “Playing here has always been a huge pleasure – the support is difficult to describe in words.

“I enjoyed the fact that I could go out there one more time – and the victory too.

“I’m just trying to stay focussed on where I need to be and see how far I can go in terms of pushing my physical performance.

And on playing De Minaur next, he added: “To play against Alex, I need to keep improving things.

“Last week I was able to play a very competitive set but in the second I had to give up. Let’s see in two days how far I can go and I’ll just try to enjoy again.”

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Tale of the Tape

Darwin Blanch vs Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Open

Darwin Blanch vs Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Open

What’s coming up on Sky Sports Tennis?

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How to watch play on Sky Sports Tennis

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