Rafael Nadal: Record 10-time champion beaten in straight sets by Hubert Hurkacz at Italian Open | Tennis News

Record 10-time Italian Open champion Rafael Nadal lost to an inspired Hubert Hurkacz in the second round after which the Spaniard said he will “try” his best to be fit for the French Open.

The big-serving Pole sealed a memorable 6-1 6-3 victory in what could signal the end of Nadal’s illustrious career at the tournament.

Following the defeat, Nadal said he is still debating whether or not to go to Roland Garros in what will likely be his final French Open, where he is a record 14-time champion.

Hurkacz makes history with victory

Hurkacz has now beaten Roger Federer in straight sets on grass (’21 Wimbledon) AND Nadal in straight sets on clay (’24 Rome)

Hurkacz is just the second man EVER to achieve that incredible feat, after Andy Murray

“Tough day for me in all ways because I felt more ready than what I showed,” Nadal said. “I am little bit more unpredictable today, not playing enough for the last two years. Too many doubts.”

Nadal admits to having two options for Paris: “One is to say, ‘OK, I am not ready, I am not playing well enough.’

“Another is accept how I am today and work the proper way to try to be in a different way in two weeks.

“The time has come to make a decision, in case I might not play Roland Garros. If I have to say which side I lean towards, it’s to try to play it and give my best,” Nadal added.

“Physically I have some issues, but not probably yet enough to say not playing in the most important event of my tennis career.”

Hurkacz survived a marathon opening game on serve, during which he saved five break points, before exerting his authority to wrap up victory in in 93 minutes, for his first win at the tournament since 2020.

After coming through a three-set battle against Zizou Bergs on Thursday, the 37-year-old Spaniard raised his level against Hurkacz, but it was not enough to stop the Pole, who saved all seven break points he faced in the match.

“I’m definitely really proud of myself,” said Hurkacz, when asked how he felt he had handled the occasion. “Playing Rafa is something special. It’s just different, especially being on clay, the surface that he has just dominated over the past 20 years. No one will ever have a record like him on this surface.

“He’s just bigger than the sport at the end of the day. So many people follow him and he inspired so many guys, so I’m just really happy to have had that experience today.

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Nadal produced a touch of magic with this brilliant backhand to stun Hurkacz…

“It’s very special. We just had the opportunity to practise. Growing up, looking up to him and seeing him win all those titles, obviously here and at Roland Garros, it was just a special experience.

“I wanted to play him so much, especially on clay, so just being able to share the court with him, especially with the atmosphere at the beginning of the match, how people really love him and support him. It’s tough to explain in words, but the whole atmosphere surrounding the beginning of the match was just different.”

Hurkacz will try to reach the fourth round in Rome for the first time when he plays Tomas Martin Etcheverry. The 25th-seeded Argentine earlier defeated Thiago Seyboth Wild 6-3 7-5 to seal his third-round spot.


Hubert Hurkacz beat Rafael Nadal in Rome

‘Nadal seemed to trust his body a bit more’

“It was [a stretch too far for Nadal] but all credit to Hurkacz today. He knew it wasn’t going to be an easy draw for Rafael Nadal with his experience on the clay,” said Naomi Broady on Sky Sports Tennis.

“Hurkacz quietly continues to progress through these clay-court tournaments.

“It was certainly played on the racket of Hurkacz with 23 winners with 10 aces.

“Nadal was moving around the court a lot better, didn’t seem as hesitant within his movement. He seemed to trust his body a bit more but just far too many unforced errors when he did get there.”

Tale of the Tape

Hubert Hurkacz beat Rafael Nadal in Rome
Hubert Hurkacz beat Rafael Nadal in Rome

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic said he was “fine” after accidentally getting knocked on the head by a water bottle while signing autographs after his opening win on Friday.

But Djokovic wasn’t taking any further chances when he showed up at the Foro Italico for practice on Saturday, putting on a biking helmet when he met with fans again.

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Novak Djokovic saw the funny side of things when he turned up in a helmet at the Italian Open, after being accidentally hit by a bottle on his head after his match on Thursday

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Watch as Holger Rune provides an all-access tour of the facilities and courts in Rome

What’s coming up on Sky Sports Tennis?

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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.

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  • Morocco Open (WTA 250) – May 20-26

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