Feliciano Lopez: "Hard to accept Rafael Nadal's last match in Madrid"

The CEO of the Mutua Madrid Open shared the emotionally strong sensations he felt during Rafa's last match on the Manolo Santana Stadium

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Feliciano Lopez: "Hard to accept Rafael Nadal's last match in Madrid"
© Clive Brunskill / Staff Getty Images Sport

The CEO of the Mutua Madrid Open, Feliciano Lopez, presented (together with Gerard Tsobanian) a special trophy to Rafael Nadal, who played the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid for the last time in his career.

Lopez shared so many incredible moments with her legendary countryman. Feliciano seemed visibly emotional during the ceremony, which celebrated Rafa for what he has done throughout his career and his victories in Madrid.

Nadal is the greatest tennis player history has ever seen on a clay court and, in a truly touching moment, he was awarded by Lopez, who explained how difficult it was to organize this ceremony for Rafa, considering the mix of feelings and very strong emotions.

"It was really emotional. Everyone was excited thinking that one of the matches played here would be the last in Madrid. Jiri Lehecka played very well, but I'm still happy for Rafa because he has made a lot of progress. This is something to consider as Paris is upon us. Just seeing him back on the pitch is good news," told Lopez Sky Sports.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© Clive Brunskill/Staff - Getty Images Sport

"It's difficult to organize something for a legend like him, because he didn't retire in Madrid. He still left the door open, because he isn't 100% sure of his condition. He didn't say: 'I will play my last tournament in Madrid, Rome or Paris.' So it was hard to decide what to do: something special but not related to his last game ever.

I think it was all very exciting. It was all planned and we were ready. Rafa is a legend, we're not just talking about tennis. He is special, not just for the titles he won. He was one of the most important moments in the history of this tournament: he won five titles here, he is the greatest sportsman in the history of Spain.

So it was a really special moment for us. I have many memories, one above all: his passion for everything he does. Spending time with him, playing Davis Cup doubles, I've shared many incredible moments with him over the last twenty years.

It's hard for all of us, I saw people's sadness after the match he lost against Lehecka. It's one of those moments you know is coming, but you don't want it to happen. It's hard to accept," added Feliciano.

Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal© Clive Brunskill / Staff Getty Images Sport

The Manolo Santana Stadium remained in infinite silence during the images that the organizers of the Mutua Madrid Open broadcast to pay tribute to Rafael Nadal. A truly magical and, at the same time, nostalgic moment.

Nadal greeted the home fans with his usual class, creating one of the most emotional moments in recent tennis history.

Feliciano Lopez Rafael Nadal Manolo Santana