The Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal said an emotional farewell to the fans after his round of 16 exit at the Masters 1000 tournament in Madrid. The 37-year-old lost :7, 4:6 to the Czech Jiri Lehecka and is likely to be the last time he competed in the tournament, which he won five times.

“It’s a difficult day when it comes, but it’s the reality. My body and my life have been sending me signals for some time,” said 22-time Grand Slam tournament winner Nadal. “I was able to say goodbye on the pitch, one of the most emotional places for me. At times, Madrid was more important to me than a Grand Slam. The memories will last forever.”

Despite the early outcome, Nadal rated the tournament in Madrid as a “positive week” and is confident going into the Masters tournament in Rome, which begins on Monday. On his farewell tour, the clay court specialist is repeatedly stopped by physical problems. In addition to the Olympic Games in Paris, appearing at the Grand Slam tournament at the same venue from the end of May is one of Nadal’s main goals this year. The Spaniard has won 14 times at Roland Garros so far.