The Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal won the generational duel at the Masters 1000 tournament in Madrid and easily moved into the second round. The 22-time Grand Slam tournament winner clearly won his opening match against the 16-year-old Darwin Blanch from the USA 6:1, 6:0.

The age difference of exactly 21 years and 117 days between Nadal and Blanch was the largest ever between two opponents at an ATP Masters 1000 tournament.

Nadal afterwards predicted a “great future” for Blanch, but this time the young American “made mistakes that I was able to take advantage of.” Nadal used his greater experience and class from the start against the overwhelmed teenager. How fit the 37-year-old really is after a long injury break will only be proven in the round of the best 64. Waiting there is the tenth seeded Australian Alex de Minaur, who inflicted a painful second-round defeat on Nadal at the comeback tournament in Barcelona the previous week.

Nadal in Paris again?

His performance on clay in Madrid is also likely to have a big impact on Nadal’s decision whether or not to play at the French Open, which begins in a month. “I won’t play in Paris if I feel like I do today,” the 14-time French Open winner said on Wednesday, causing a stir. Nadal, who has repeatedly been set back by injuries, wants to end his career in 2024.

Opening opponent Blanch, who made his debut on the ATP tour just a few weeks ago at the tournament in Miami, admitted before the biggest game of his career so far: “I’m very excited and of course a little nervous.” And that’s how the wild card holder ended up playing.

Off for Hanfmann and Maria

Yannick Hanfmann also suffered a first-round exit. The 32-year-old from Weinheim was defeated by Czech Jakub Mensik 4:6, 6:7 (3:7). Germany’s best tennis player Alexander Zverev will return to action on Friday after a bye in the first round against Croatian Borna Coric.

From now on, the women’s individual competition will take place without German participation. Tennis player Tatjana Maria (36) was eliminated 3:6, 1:6 against Belarusian Viktoria Asarenka. Laura Siegemund, who fought for a starting place in the main field through two successful qualifying rounds, had already failed on Wednesday against Croatian Donna Vekic. Former world number one Angelique Kerber is skipping the tournament after her viral infection and only wants to start again in Rome.