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Barcelona Open: Rafael Nadal makes winning return to clay, hammers Cobolli

On Tuesday, Rafael Nadal won his first match on clay in 681 days at the Barcelona Open. The Short Version Nadal’s resounding victory over Flavio Cobolli marked his return to clay court ahead of the French Open, signaling his determination to overcome injury setbacks. In his first clay match since June 2022, the 37-year-old legend…

On Tuesday, Rafael Nadal won his first match on clay in 681 days at the Barcelona Open.

The Short Version

  • The Barcelona Open marked Rafael Nadal’s return to clay
  • For the first time since June 2022, Rafael Nadal played on clay
  • Nadal defeated Flavio Cobolli 6-2, 6-3 in Barcelona

Nadal’s resounding victory over Flavio Cobolli marked his return to clay court ahead of the French Open, signaling his determination to overcome injury setbacks. In his first clay match since June 2022, the 37-year-old legend defeated the world No.62 6-2, 6-3 in the opening round of the Barcelona Open. In addition to missing the Australian Open, Nadal had been sidelined due to injury since his last appearance at the Brisbane International in January. In spite of attempts to return to Qatar, California, and Monte-Carlo, the 22-time major champion had to postpone. Reference

Rafael Nadal hammers Cobolli on his comeback to clay (AP Photo)

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Nadal’s appearance in Barcelona marked his first official match since his 14th French Open title was clinched on June 5, 2022. As Nadal prepares to return to the French Open next month, his performance in Barcelona provided valuable insight into the state of his game and physical health. I found it fascinating to watch Nadal’s performance against Cobolli, who has limited Grand Slam main draw experience. In his first clay court match since winning the French Open final in 2022, Nadal, a 12-time champion in Barcelona, stepped onto the clay court for the first time in 681 days.

Nadal defeats Cobolli 6-2 6-3 in his first clay court match since Roland-Garros 2022. #BCNOpenBS pic.twitter.com/QK7xK6DZzH — Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) April 16, 2024

In anticipation of Nadal’s arrival on the court bearing his name, a capacity crowd was palpable. There was an electric atmosphere in the gangway, with ball kids and tournament staff lining it. Throughout the pre-match rituals, such as aligning his water bottles, jumping into the box, and sprinting to the baseline, Nadal received thunderous applause and a near-standing ovation. Nadal has returned to Roland Garros for the last time as he realizes 2024 may mark the end of his tennis career. Known as the ‘King of Clay’, the Spaniard has dominated the French Open with 14 men’s singles titles, making him the most successful player in the tournament’s history.

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