Nadal Falls to Hurkacz in Rome Open Second Round

 Spain's Rafael Nadal fell to a second-round defeat in Rome ahead of the French Open - AFP
Spain's Rafael Nadal fell to a second-round defeat in Rome ahead of the French Open - AFP
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Nadal Falls to Hurkacz in Rome Open Second Round

 Spain's Rafael Nadal fell to a second-round defeat in Rome ahead of the French Open - AFP
Spain's Rafael Nadal fell to a second-round defeat in Rome ahead of the French Open - AFP

Rafael Nadal was knocked out of the Rome Open in the second round on Saturday with a 6-1, 6-3 loss to Poland's Hubert Hurkacz.

Defeat to seventh seed Hurkacz casts doubt over whether clay-court icon Nadal will play at the upcoming French Open, where he has won a record 14 titles.

Nadal has said that he will only play at Roland Garros if he feels competitive after a raft of injury problems over the last two years which have left him languishing 305th in the world rankings, AFP reported.

And the manner of his elimination in his first ever encounter with 27-year-old Hurkacz was a step backwards after reaching the last 16 in Madrid.

Nadal held his own in the first two games in the first set, which took 26 minutes to complete, but then fell away as errors handed Hurkacz points.

The 37-year-old twice gave away breaks of serve with miscued drop shots in the first set which Hurkacz closed out in 49 minutes as he blew through five straight games.

And the match was as good as done when Hurkacz, who did not drop a single service game, broke Nadal in the third game of the second set to set up a famous victory.

That level of dominance over Nadal on clay, much less a court where he has won a record 10 titles, would have been unimaginable a few short years ago.

But Hurkacz will face Tomas Etcheverry in the third round after likely ending Nadal's love affair with Rome as the 22-time Grand Slam winner looks set to call time on his career at the end of the season.



Teenagers Yamal and Cubarsi Included in Young Spain Squad for European Championship 

Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)
Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)
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Teenagers Yamal and Cubarsi Included in Young Spain Squad for European Championship 

Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)
Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)

Spain is set to take a young squad to the European Championship, with teenagers Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsi among the players picked by coach Luis de la Fuente on Monday.

Fermín López, the 21-year-old Barcelona forward, also was included in the list of 29 players announced by the coach, who will have to cut three names from the squad for the tournament in Germany. López has yet to make his debut with the national team.

“They have talent and motivation,” De la Fuente said. “They are very versatile players. Fermín will take a leap forward with this call-up. I hope that they will benefit and show all the potential that they have.”

Ayoze Pérez was another of the few surprises on the list, with the 30-year-old Real Betis forward getting his first call-up to the senior squad.

Other strikers included Atletico Madrid’s Álvaro Morata and Real Madrid’s Joselu, as well as the 16-year-old Yamal of Barcelona and 21-year-old Nico Williams of Athletic Bilbao.

Along with Cubarsi, the 17-year-old Barcelona center back, other defenders included Madrid’s Nacho Fernández and 38-year-old veteran Jesús Navas of Sevilla.

Forwards Marco Asensio of Paris Saint-Germain, Pablo Sarabia of Wolverhampton, Brais Méndez of Real Sociedad and Gerard Moreno of Villarreal were left out.

Veteran Atletico midfielder Koke Resurrección also didn’t make the squad.

Spain will be aiming for a record fourth European Championship. It was drawn into Group B with Italy, Albania and Croatia.

“It’s a very difficult group but we are prepared,” De la Fuente said. “We will be fighting to be among the title contenders in the end.”

Spain will play warmups against Andorra and Northern Ireland before heading to Germany.