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Rafael Nadal falls to Hubert Hurkacz in Rome Open second round

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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.

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.

Rafael 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.

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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.

The match was as good as done when Hubert Hurkacz, who did not drop a single service game, broke Rafael 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 of Rome 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.

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