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Nadal beats De Minaur, reaches third round of career’s last Madrid Open

Rafael Nadal has not played his last match before his home fans.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion beat Alex de Minaur 7-6(6), 6-3 in the second round of the Madrid Open on Saturday, avenging a loss to the Australian less than two weeks ago.

Nadal was cheered on by Spanish King Felipe VI, Zinedine Zidane and a raucous crowd that packed the Caja Magica to see what will most likely be the tennis great’s last tournament in Spain.

The 37-year-old Nadal was playing just his fourth competitive match since his latest injury layoff. Decimated by injuries in recent years, he has said this is most likely his farewell year on the tour.

The 11th-ranked De Minaur beat Nadal 7-5, 6-1 just 11 days before in Barcelona, where the Spaniard returned to the courts for the first time in more than three months. Nadal looked much better this time around.

“I have been through some very difficult months when there were moments when I didn’t see the reason to continue, but I had the dream of experiencing feelings like this again and above all at home,” Nadal said. “It was incredible.”

Nadal’s ultimate goal is to be competitive one last time at next month’s French Open, where he is a record 14-time champion.

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