Rafael Nadal is on the verge of achieving some notable Masters 1000 records. However, he has to return to competition first, staying away from the court since January. Rafa stands at the top of the list with the most appearances at a single Masters 1000 event, sharing it with Andre Agassi.
The American competed in Miami 19 times, setting the record and keeping it until the last year. Nadal joined him 12 months ago after entering his 19th Madrid Masters main draw. Rafa could have passed Andre a couple of weeks ago and become the only player with 20 participations at a single Masters 1000 event.
However, Nadal withdrew from Madrid due to an ongoing hip injury, missing the home Masters 1000 tournament for the first time since 2002! Rafa debuted in Madrid in 2003 as a 17-year-old, losing to Alex Corretja in three sets in the first round.
Despite indoor conditions, Nadal lifted the trophy only two years later following an epic victory over Ivan Ljubicic in the title clash. The home star came from two sets to love down and prevailed in the deciding tie break to bring the victory home in three hours and 53 minutes.
Rafa broke his foot and missed the next couple of months, although nothing could replace the feeling of joy after winning a thrilling match in front of his partisan crowd. Nadal could not repeat that in the next three years, and the event moved to clay in 2009.
Nadal stood among the favorites in Caja Magica for years, reaching seven finals in the first nine editions on the slowest surface.
Rafael Nadal missed the Madrid Masters for the first time since 2002.
Rafa has won four trophies in Caja Magica, standing as the most successful player.
Nadal toppled Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem en route to the title in 2017, his last glorious year in Madrid. The home favorite lost to Thiem in the 2018 quarter-final and fell to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final a year later.
Alexander Zverev ousted Rafa in the 2021 quarter-final, and the veteran faced the young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz in the last year's quarter-final. Carlos scored a notable 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 triumph to send Rafa out of the competition and remain on the title course.
Nadal had to miss the Madrid Masters two weeks ago, struggling with a hip injury and not playing at home after more than two decades! If Rafa returns to Caja Magica in 2024, he will become the first player with 20 appearances at a single Masters 1000 event.
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