Rafael Nadal loses to Alex de Minaur in second round at Barcelona

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BARCELONA, Spain — Rafael Nadal’s first tournament since January lasted only two matches, with the Spaniard losing 7-5, 6-1 to Alex de Minaur at the clay-court Barcelona Open on Wednesday.

Nadal, back from an injury layoff, looked like his old self for brief moments in the second-round match but couldn’t keep up with 11th-ranked de Minaur.

The 22-time Grand Slam champion had comfortably defeated 62nd-ranked Flavio Cobolli in straight sets in the first round Tuesday in what was his first competitive match in more than three months.

Nadal again looked injury-free Wednesday but was never in control against in-form de Minaur, who picked up his second career win over Nadal.

It was only Nadal’s fifth defeat at the Barcelona Open, a tournament he has won a record 12 times.

He is returning from yet another injury layoff and hadn’t played since an exhibition match against Carlos Alcaraz in March. Before this week, Nadal had played only three competitive matches this year — all in Brisbane in January — before skipping the Australian Open.

He also withdrew from Monte Carlo, saying his body wasn’t ready. Nadal, 37, is a 14-time winner at the French Open, which begins next month.

It isn’t clear yet whether he will play at the upcoming Madrid Open.

Nadal had hip surgery last summer and said 2024 will probably be his last year playing on tour.

Bautista Agut’s 400th

Roberto Bautista Agut rallied to defeat Andrea Vavassori 4-6, 6-3, 6-1 to earn his 400th tour-level victory.

Bautista Agut, a 35-year-old Spaniard, is the 13th active player with at least 400 ATP Tour wins.

“To me it’s just a number,” he said. “The important thing is that I’ve done great work over these years, that I’ve had a very consistent career, a career that I can feel proud of.”

Other results

Third-seeded Casper Ruud advanced with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Alexandre Muller, and sixth-seeded Ugo Humbert lost 6-4, 6-4 to Dusan Lajovic.

Ninth-seeded Nicolas Jarry lost 7-6 (5), 6-3 to qualifier Marco Trungelliti, and 14th-seeded Jordan Thompson got past Jaume Munar 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.

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