Rafa Nadal's touching gesture for rival at Madrid Open amid epic tennis comeback

The tennis legend handed his shirt to tennis rival Pedro Cachin after their match in Madrid

Rafa Nadal has stormed into the fourth round of the Madrid Open after overcoming adversity to battle past Argentina's Pedro Cachin. The 37-year-old - who knocked out Alex de Minaur earlier in the tournament - is gearing up for the French Open next month and has shown vast improvements this week in Spain after faltering the week prior in Barcelona.

On Monday, Nadal cruised through the first set but lost a scrappy second in a tie-break before eventually sealing a 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-3 victory in just over three hours. While his performance on the court drew strong praise from the tennis world, it was a kind gesture after the match that garnered the most attention and showed the Spaniard is a class act.

Pictured Rafa Nadal
Rafa Nadal has been praised for his classy gesture following his win over Pedro Cachin, handing his shirt his to his rival after their match in Madrid. Image: Getty/Twitter

As the competitors met at the net to shake hands at the end of a gruelling three sets, Cachin asked the 22-time grand slam champion if he could have his shirt. "You made my dream come true. Can I have your shirt?" Cachin asked.

Without hesitation Nadal obliged, running back to his bag to grab him a fresh shirt. The tennis great then jogged over to his 29-year-old rival, gave him a hug and handed him a souvenir he will treasure forever. The act caught the attention of the tennis world, who sang the praises of the Spanish tennis great.

Following the match, Nadal said he is lapping up the chance to play at home one last time as he dreams of a fairytale ending to his illustrious tennis career. "I found a way to be through. In the third, I was able to be more unpredictable and I think that changed the match," Nadal told Sky Sports.

"I'm enjoying the fact that I'm playing at home because it means everything to me and I'm trying my best to keep dreaming - and tomorrow is another day." Nadal's victory set up a fourth-round clash with 22-year-old Czech Jiri Lehecka.

Rafael Nadal of Spain is in action during the 2024 ATP Tour Madrid Open tennis tournament at Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain, on April 29, 2024. (Photo by Juan Carlos Lucas/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Rafa Nadal's win over Pedro Cachin has set up a fourth-round clash with 22-year-old Czech Jiri Lehecka.

Meanwhile, top seed Jannik Sinner advanced into the last 16 with a convincing 6-2 7-5 victory over Pavel Kotov. And while world No.4 Daniil Medvedev dropped the first set against American Sebastian Korda, he hit back to win 5-7 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 to progress to the fourth round.

Before Madrid, Nadal said he was unsure if he would play at the French Open, making the bombshell admission that if his body felt like it was before the Madrid Open he wouldn't play at Roland Garros. "If I was in Paris today, I wouldn't go out to play," Nadal told reporters at the Madrid Open.


"I don't think I'll be able to play at 100 per cent but it's important to be able to play for the last time in Madrid, it means a lot to me to play on this court where I've had some great moments." This doesn't mean I'm giving up on anything in the next few weeks, I don't know what might happen...

"I'm going to do the things I have to do to be able to play in Paris. And if I can, I can and if I can't, I can't. I'm going to Paris if I feel like I'm good enough ... if I feel capable enough to compete...

"The world does not end with Roland-Garros, although it has been the most important tournament of my career. If I don’t play in Paris, there are other tournaments there; there is an Olympics soon and other events. I am not going to do more than I feel capable of doing or have the desire to do."

with AAP