July 16, 2024
Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal is back to ruling the clay court, as his first match at the 2024 Madrid Open indicated. But amidst his comeback bid following an injury, the 22-time Grand Slam champion still found time to cradle his son in a tender moment.

Cameras captured Nadal cradling his toddler, Rafael Jr, before taking on Darwin Blanch in the opening round of the Mutua Madrid Open — and the cuteness overload shows that Nadal’s decision to hold off on having kids until his tennis career neared its end was the right choice.

A tender family moment
Before Nadal faced Blanch at La Caja Magica, Nadal spent some time with wife Maria Francisca Perello and their son, born in October 2022. Rafael Jr. received some pecks on the cheek from his doting father, as well as a miniature tennis racket with which the toddler could play — although Nadal Sr. has previously expressed reservations about his son following in his legendary footsteps.

Nadal impressed on Thursday and appeared as sharp as he has since his 2023 hip surgery. The 37-year-old, in what is likely his final year on the ATP Tour, took care of 16-year-old Blanch in just over an hour, winning 6-1, 6-0 on a windy and sunny day in the Spanish capital.

Nadal, hoping to extend his record by winning the Madrid Open for a sixth time this year, shared one more sweet moment with his family after eliminating the youthful Blanch. With some prompting from his mother, Rafael Jr. held up his index finger to denote that he is his dad’s #1 fan — with Rafa himself cracking a smile at the sight.

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