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Nadal kicks off Mutua Madrid Open campaign with easy win over Blanch

Rafael Nadal is off and running at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Nadal wasted no time and expended no extra energy while erasing Darwin Blanch 6-1, 6-0 on Thursday afternoon. The 37-year-old Spaniard raced into a rematch with Alex de Minaur after just one hour and four minutes.

Nadal’s second-round match last week at the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell also came against none other than De Minaur–who prevailed 7-5, 6-1. The former world No. 1 still leads their head-to-head series 3-2, but De Minaur has won two in a row.

It figures to be much tougher than the test Nadal received on Thursday in what was the biggest age difference in Masters 1000 history (Nadal is 37 and Blanch is 16. The American sprayed unforced errors left and right throughout the whole match, all but handing a routine win to Nadal.

For Nadal’s own part, he probably looked better than he did in Barcelona. There were more MPHs on his serve and his movement was good–if not on part with the Nadal of old. The 22-time Grand Slam champion did not face a single break point and he won 10 of 12 second-serve return points.

It was a strong performance, but no one should get carried away by the thought of a potential deep run in Madrid by Nadal.

“The goal is be on court (and) enjoy as long as possible,” he said at his pre-tournament press conference. “That’s the thing–try to finish the tournament alive in terms of body issues, and enjoy the fact that I will be able to compete one more time in the professional tour and here at home in Madrid–a place that give me everything in terms of support.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.