'Rafael Nadal has been our biggest pillar in...', says ATP ace



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'Rafael Nadal has been our biggest pillar in...', says ATP ace

The Mutua Madrid Open kicked off at Caja Magica and welcomed the best players in the world (with the exception of Iga Swiatek, Daniil Medvedev and Matteo Berrettini). The second Masters 1000 on clay will also mark the return of Rafael Nadal, who suffered a stress fracture in his rib during the Indian Wells semi-final against Carlos Alcaraz.

The former world number 1 has triumphed in the Iberian capital on five occasions, but his last seal dates back to 2017. The Spanish champion had a truly exceptional start to the season, having literally blown the bank at the Australian Open.

The 35-year-old from Manacor has hoisted himself to 21 Majors, bypassing Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the all-time rankings. Rafa won his first 20 games played in 2022, before surrendering to Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells final.

Nadal's goal is to get 100% to Roland Garros, where he will go after his 14th seal. In a recent interview with the 'ABC' newspaper, Feliciano Lopez - current director of the Madrid tournament - praised Rafael Nadal and Manolo Santana.

Lopez opens up on Rafa Nadal

"The tournament can be defined with two people: Manolo Santana, who convinced the mayor and the people believed in the project thanks to him, and the other is Rafael Nadal," Lopez said.

"He has been our biggest pillar in these years and has contributed to the growth of the tournament, because he fills the courts and is well loved in Madrid," he continued. "Surely in Mallorca they love him more, but here there is a dispute because they adore him."

The 20th edition of the tournament will be of vital importance to Nadal, who will return to action after a six-week break following an injury to his rib that he picked up in the semifinals at Indian Wells. The Spaniard, who has won Roland Garros a record 13 times, will be looking to come into his own ahead of the tournament, which begins later this month.

21-time Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal is all set to make his return from injury at the Madrid Open. Notably, he sustained a rib injury during the final of Indian Wells against Taylor Fritz. Since then, he missed the Miami Open and the start of the clay-court season.

At the Madrid Open, Nadal will play his first match on the third of May. His potential opponent could either be Miomir Kecmanovic or Alexander Bublik. Either way, it will be a tough first match for Rafael Nadal on his return.