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Virtual Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal asks to postpone charity match because of 'back issue'

What the virtual Madrid Open court looks like

Rafael Nadal has suffered more than a fair share of injuries during his tennis career but his latest is a first for the Spanish great.

The 19-time Grand Slam champion asked to postpone a virtual tennis charity match against a gamer on Monday because of a “back issue”, according to Madrid Open Virtual Pro tournament director Feliciano Lopez.

Nadal is one of 32 stars competing in a video game version of the Spanish capital’s clay-court event, which should have taken place next week.

After beating Canada’s Denis Shapovalov in his opening match of the main tournament between ATP players, Nadal was set to play Spanish YouTuber DjMariio in a separate charity match.

But Lopez says Nadal messaged him earlier on Monday asking for his match against the gamer be postponed.

“He had an issue on his back and was a bit injured so he requested to play DjMariio tomorrow,” Lopez said on the tournament’s live YouTube stream.

“I got a text from Rafa before he played Shapovalov saying he injured himself. I don’t know if he was working out or what it was. But he was worried about the injury.

“He said ‘let me play the match against Shapovalov and that’s it for today, then tomorrow I will try to play against DjMariio’.”

Nadal, 33, has also been drawn in the same group as Britain’s Andy Murray, who beat France’s Benoit Paire in his opening match.

The group phase of the event, which has a separate WTA tournament, continues on Tuesday and Wednesday before the semi-finals and finals take place on Thursday.

British number one Johanna Konta, who is among the 16 players in the WTA event, had a difficult start with a 3-0 defeat by Romania’s Sorana Cirstea in her opener.

Matches consist of one set in a first-to-three format, with a tie-break to decide the winner if they are locked at 3-3.

Swiss world number seven Belinda Bencic won plaudits for an impressive 3-1 win over Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro, plus the effort she put into an ‘on-court’ walk before the match.

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