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Jiří Lehečka Becomes Lowest-ranked Man To Beat Rafa Nadal In A Masters 1000 Clay Event



Jiří Lehečka Becomes Lowest-ranked Man To Beat Rafa Nadal In A Masters 1000 Clay Event

Jiří Lehečka may have a narrative for his grandchildren.

The 22-year-old native of the Czech Republic turned the lowest-ranked man to beat the legendary Rafael Nadal in a Masters 1000 clay occasion or at Roland Garros when he took out the Spaniard 7-5, 6-4, within the spherical of 16 on the Madrid Open in what could have been Nadal’s final match in his native Spain.

5-time champion Nadal was taking part in on the Madrid clay for the ultimate time, in what he expects to be the final season of his profession.

For Lehečka, ranked No. 31 on this planet, it was the most important victory of his profession. Though Nadal is presently ranked No. 512 on this planet, he has received 22 Grand Slam singles titles and is universally considered the best clay courtroom participant of all time.

“It’s superb to share a courtroom with such a legendary participant. It is a dream come true; I at all times wished for this to occur,” Lehecka mentioned. “I’m very grateful to attain such a giant second and all the perfect to Rafa. It’s sort of bittersweet to have such a pleasant win in entrance of all these individuals who had been cheering for him. The vitality was superb.”

Lehečka’s earlier finest wins had been a pair of victories over then-No. 5 Andrey Rublev.

Nadal, 37, was coming off a 6-1, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3 win over Pedro Cachin of Argentina on Monday that required him to spend three hours and 6 minutes on courtroom.

The query now stays: What’s subsequent for the legendary Spaniard?

He indicated earlier than the match that if he wasn’t wholesome sufficient given his , he wouldn’t play the French Open beginning subsequent month. Nadal has received 14 of his 22 Slams at Roland Garros.

The Italian Open begins subsequent week.

After injuring a hip flexor on the Australian Open in 2023, when he was the defending champion, Nadal had arthroscopic surgical procedure final summer season and missed the remainder of the 12 months. He withdrew from this 12 months’s Australian Open and returned in Brisbane, Australia, in January and seemed good whereas profitable two matches.

He then withdrew from Doha and Indian Wells, however returned in Barcelona, the place he misplaced to Alex de Minaur.

Nonetheless, he seemed wholesome in profitable three matches in Madrid, together with one over No. 10 Alex de Minaur in straight units.

“Nadal’s really hitting the ball tougher at the moment,” Jim Courier mentioned on Tennis Channel. “Serve’s been greater, floor strokes when he’s given an opportunity look good.

“If that is his final match right here, this has been an excellent match for Nadal’s staff, I consider, and I feel they’d agree with that.”

With Lehečka serving at 7-5, 4-3, the group roared in assist of Nadal, making an attempt to induce him to show the tables on a person 15 years his junior.

However the Czech held serve, profitable the sport with a deft forehand volley winner.

Nadal then held serve for 4-5 with a ripping forehand winner down the road.

The Czech then closed it out on his serve when Nadal hit a backhand extensive for the most important win of his life.

And the 2 males shook palms on the internet, as Nadal walked off a clay courtroom in Spain perhaps for the final time.

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