Feliciano Lopez: 'Rafael Nadal playing Madrid Open 2021 would make me..'

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Feliciano Lopez: 'Rafael Nadal playing Madrid Open 2021 would make me..'

The Mutua Madrid Open will become a two-week event from 2021, staged at Caja Magica between April 27 and May 9. The WTA main draw will start on April 29 (Thursday), with the ATP action joining three days later. A tournament director Feliciano Lopez can't say much about the leading names at the moment.

However, he hopes to bring the 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal, who is yet to skip the Masters 1000 event in front of the home fans in Caja Magica. Madrid had to close the gates in 2020 due to the coronavirus, hoping for a fresh start next spring and thrilling matches at one of the most notable clay-court events in the calendar.

Madrid became a part of the Masters 1000 family in 2002, staged as an indoor event until 2008. Nadal made a debut in front of the home fans in 2003 at 17, winning the title two years later following that epic triumph over Ivan Ljubicic in five sets, lifting his only ATP indoor hard trophy.

Madrid switched to clay in 2009, with Caja Magica serving as the home of one of the best-organized tournaments on both the WTA and ATP circuit. Following that epic semi-final clash with Novak Djokovic, Nadal lost the 2009 final to Roger Federer, winning the crown a year later and suffering another title match loss to Novak Djokovic in 2011.

Rafa was the player to beat in the Spanish capital in 2013 and 2014 before Andy Murray halted his streak in the final clash in 2015. Nadal's fifth Madrid Open crown came in 2017 following a win over Dominic Thiem, losing against the Austrian in the quarter-final 12 months later.

In 2019, Nadal suffered another blow in front of the home crowd, losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 in the semis. It was a grueling battle that lasted for two hours and 34 minutes, with Stefanos taking six points less than Rafa and repelling 11 out of 16 break points to stay alive against the mighty opponent.

Rafael Nadal made Madrid debut in 2003, never skipping home Masters 1000 event.

Nadal served at 73%, but that brought him nothing, facing 14 break chances and losing ground against the young opponent who did everything right in sets he won.

Stefanos sprayed almost 30 forehand unforced errors but tamed his shots to deliver 32 winners, leaving Nadal on a 28-31 ratio, which wasn't enough for the triumph. Nothing could separate them in the shortest and most extended exchanges, and Stefanos won the battle in those rallies between five and eight shots, returning well and keeping his backhand safe to find the way towards the finish line.

"Rafael Nadal gives the Madrid Open a new dimension year after year. I will do my best to sign Rafa for the 2021 edition; I know how important the clay swing is for him. As the Mutua Madrid Open tournament director, seeing Nadal in the draw would make me very happy," Feliciano Lopez said.