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Mutua Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal suffers emotional straight-sets defeat to Czech Jiri Lehecka | Tennis News

Rafael Nadal’s Madrid Open run ended with an emotional straight-sets defeat to Czech youngster Jiri Lehecka under the roof on Caja Magica.

In front of a passionate home crown hoping to see the five-time champion conjure a fairy-tale run deep into the second week in what is expected to be his last appearance at the event, 30th seed Lehecka spoiled the party with a 7-5 6-4 victory in just over two hours.

Immediately after the match Nadal said farewell to fans in an on-court interview as the tournament unfurled five banners marking each of his five victories in 2008, 2010, 2013, 2014 and 2017.

“This is one of those days that when it arrives, it’s very tough, but life and my body have been sending me signals for a long time,” he said. “The dream was to finish here on court. I have been fortunate in my life to turn my passion into my job, I am privileged.”


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In an emotional goodbye, Nadal described the memories from playing in Madrid as a ‘gift’

The 22-time Grand Slam champion arrived in Madrid saying he wasn’t fully fit and was worried about his condition, but in the end was celebrating having won three consecutive matches without showing significant physical limitations.

Nadal had only one break opportunity against the big-serving Lehecka who has now won all his three matches in straight sets.

“It’s amazing to share a court with such a legendary player. It’s a dream come true; I always wished for this to happen,” Lehecka said.

“I’m very grateful to achieve such a big moment and all the best to Rafa. It’s kind of bittersweet to have such a nice win in front of all these people who were cheering for him. The energy was amazing.”

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Highlights of Carlos Alcaraz’s victory against Jan-Lennard Struff at the Madrid Open

Carlos Alcaraz was pushed to the limit, but found the answers when needed to overcome a gutsy Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 7-6 (7-4) in a repeat of last year’s final.

The 20-year-old is aiming to become the first player in history to win three straight titles at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

“Honestly this match reminds me of last year’s match,” Alcaraz said. “It was pretty difficult from the first point until the last one. It was a great fight and it was difficult. It was difficult for me to deal with my emotions, to handle certain moments, difficult moments in the match.

“Serving for the match, it was really difficult for me after that 40-0 up, but really happy that at the end it didn’t affect me with my game, with my mentality. I kept fighting. That’s all that matters and I’m really happy to get the win at the end.”

“What a great battle,” Andy Murray’s former coach Miles Maclagan said on Sky Sports Tennis. “The style of game they play and the contest – nothing but respect for Jan-Lennard Struff.

“For all that effort there’s no reward in the end but perhaps he’ll take a lot of heart in the way he’s played, the way he’s pushed Alcaraz, the way he’s continued to show resilience and character when I’m sure most would have been writing Alcaraz’s name into the next round.

“He kept coming and kept coming and never got down on himself. That is one of his big attributes. This guy’s bag of tricks is a large one.

“The power he brings, the athleticism, the punch as well.”

Steamroller

Carlos Alcaraz has equalled Rafael Nadal’s 14-match winning streak at the Madrid Masters, the longest of any player since the inception of the tournament in 2002

‘How I missed this, quarters next’

Carlos Alcaraz at the Madrid Open
Carlos Alcaraz at the Madrid Open

Tale of the Tape

Carlos Alcaraz vs Jan-Lennard Struff: Tale of the Tape
Carlos Alcaraz vs Jan-Lennard Struff: Tale of the Tape

Swiatek roars back to reach Madrid semi-finals

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Highlights of Iga Swiatek against Beatriz Haddad Maia

World No 1 Iga Swiatek recovered from losing the opening set to beat Brazilian 11th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia 4-6 6-0 6-2 and move into the semi-finals.

Swiatek, bidding for her third title this year, broke to lead 3-1 in the first set, but Haddad Maia bounced back to break twice, saving three break points in between to level at 4-4, and took the opening set.

That was the first set the Pole had dropped in the tournament, but she had an emphatic response, completing a bagel in the second set, where the Brazilian failed to force a single break point and Swiatek won two service games to love.

Swiatek continued in the same vein in the deciding set, breaking at the first opportunity to lead 2-0, and although Haddad Maia broke back immediately, the top seed won four of the next five games to complete her comeback.

Having lost their first meeting in 2022, Swiatek has now won the last three matches against the Brazilian.

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Highlights of Madison Keys’ victory against Ons Jabeur

Swiatek, who has won titles in Indian Wells and at the Qatar Open in 2024, will face Madison Keys in Thursday’s semi-final, after the 18th seed beat Tunisian Ons Jabeur 0-6 7-5 6-1.

The 2022 champion and eighth seed appeared to be cruising towards an effortless win, taking the first set in only 24 minutes.

However, the American world No 20 fought back in the second and forced a decider where she broke twice to reach the semi-finals in Madrid for the first time.

What’s coming up on Sky Sports Tennis?

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Find out all the ways to watch tennis on Sky Sports, including the US Open, ATP and WTA tours

In the run-up to the second Grand Slam of 2024 – the French Open at Roland Garros from May 26 – you can watch all of the biggest tennis stars in action live on Sky Sports as they compete across the clay-court season.

  • Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome (ATP and WTA Masters 1000) – May 7-19
  • Geneva Open (ATP 250) – May 20-26
  • Lyon Open (ATP 250) – May 20-26
  • Internationaux de Strasbourg (WTA 500 with Emma Raducanu in action) – May 20-26
  • Morocco Open (WTA 250) – May 20-26

How to watch play on Sky Sports Tennis

The stars of tennis will appear on the new Sky Sports Tennis channel every day
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The stars of tennis will appear on the new Sky Sports Tennis channel every day

Sky Sports has confirmed a new home for tennis in the UK and Ireland, with Sky Sports Tennis on Sky and NOW, making tennis content available all day, every day for fans.

Sky Sports will broadcast more live tennis than anywhere else, bringing over 4,000 matches from more than 80 tournaments a year on the ATP and WTA Tours, as well as full coverage of the US Open, all exclusively live.

Non-Sky subscribers can stream live matches with a NOW Sports Day and Month Membership, via Sky Sports Tennis, Sky Sports Arena, and Sky Sports Mix channels.

For further access, fans will also be able to follow their favourite players and gain deeper insights from both Tours via Sky Sports News, the Sky Sports app, on SkySports.com and via Sky Sports social channels.

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