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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Monday April 15, 2024

Rafael Nadal will not be under any illusions when he takes the court on Tuesday at Barcelona to play his first match on clay since 2022. The King of Clay is low on expectations but high on appreciation – it means a lot for him to return to the clay in a special place like Barcelona, where he has won a record 12 titles.

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“Rather than regretting the places I haven’t been able to play, I’m happy to be here,” he said according to the ATP website. “On a personal level, to me being in Barcelona is a gift.

“I’m treating it as my last year, I want to enjoy every second. That makes everything a little more special. Currently that’s how I feel. It hurt not being able to be in Monte-Carlo last week but, luckily, things have improved this week. I feel ready to go out and play tomorrow.”

Nadal, who will face Italy’s Flavio Cobolli in Tuesday’s final match in Barcelona, says he made the late decision to come to Barcelona because he had a positive week on the practice courts and he feels ready to take advantage of the opportunity to play on his beloved clay, on home soil.

“Without thinking any more about it, about my readiness. I’m aware of what the situation is,” he said. “Things can happen, I’m only just ready. But I’m realistic and, to me, simply being here is exciting and being able to play this tournament and on this court makes me happy.”