Alex de Minaur ends Rafael Nadal's last run in Barcelona

De Minaur defeated Nadal 7-5 6-1.
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Alex de Mianur is ascending while Rafael Nadal is diminishing. That is meant as no disrespect to Nadal, but he is close to the end of his career. De Minaur is playing likely the best tennis of his career in 2024. Nadal has also heavily implied that this will be his last year playing tennis. If that is true then he just played for the last time at the Barcelona Open.

On the court that bears his name, Nadal was dominated by de Minaur on Wednesday. After a fairly tight first set which the Australian took 7-5, de Minaur broke Nadal three times in the second set to win easily 6-1. The Spaniard did show flashes of his former self with the ability to make shots that few players ever could, but de Minaur was much more athletic and his ability to move around the court greatly outpaced Nadal's ability to do the same.

Oh, and there were many de Minaur drop shots that Nadal might see in his sleep. The Australian used the shot as a weapon knowing Nadal can no longer get around the court as well as he used to because of age and injuries. One of the first things an older tennis player loses is the ability to cover all corners of the court. De Minaur, however, defeated Nadal many times by having him move forward to backward. De Minaur became the first Australian player to ever defeat Nadal on clay.

Alex de Minaur defeats Rafael Nadal in straight sets at the Barcelona Open

The Barcelona crowd was fair to both players, it should be noted. Playing in his home country at the Barcelona Open for probably the final time, the crowd was just as appreciative of de Minaur's magic as Nadal's. Sure, they wanted Nadal to win, but early in the second set, it was clear the Spaniard was not going to.

The next question for Nadal is one he does not yet have the answer. How will he feel in the next few days after playing in his first ATP since the beginning of January? Injuries have kept him from the court for the last four months and his hip, back, and abdomen could bother him for the rest of his career.

He is likely to play at the French Open, barring a new injury, but in his current form, he will not win the event. Depending on his draw, he might not advance very far. There are several players of the ilk of de Minaur on the tour who move brilliantly around the court. Tennis fans should hope for a miracle for Nadal to win at Roland Garros.

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