FLASHBACK: Rafael Nadal also defeated Casper Ruud in the 2022 ATP Finals round robin stage.


Rafael Nadal’s last visit to Mexico as a professional tennis player ended in the same way that it started: with the Spaniard donning a sombrero and lifting a trophy. Joined by Casper Ruud in the world’s largest bull ring, Mexico City's Plaza de Toros Monumental de México, the pair battled it out in front of 40,000 spectators in an exhibition match.

It marked the final stop in their multi-city tour of Latin America, which also included South American destinations Quito, Bogota, Belo Horizonte and Buenos Aires. And for Nadal, one last chance to compete in Mexico—a country that the reigning Acapulco champion said feels like home.

"When I'm in Mexico I don't feel like a stranger, I don't feel like a foreigner, in the end when you're in a country where we speak the same language and there are more things that unite us, when I arrive here I feel at home," Nadal said. “The reception of the people I feel is spectacular. It is a country where people know how to have fun, a happy country.

“In all the places I have been in the country in Cozumel, Tulum, Playa Mujeres, and Acapulco, I have always been happy. I have always taken good memories of the places, but also of the people, of the food, of everything, and that always encourages me to come back.”

Nadal and Ruud (left) concluded their five-city "Revenge" tour in Latin America, a friendly rematch of their Roland Garros final.

Nadal and Ruud (left) concluded their five-city "Revenge" tour in Latin America, a friendly rematch of their Roland Garros final.

In a pre-match press conference, Nadal also confirmed that he won’t return next year to defend his Acapulco title. Nadal has won the ATP 500-level event four times, twice on hard court and twice when the tournament was a clay-court event. But at 36-years-old, the snake-bitten Spaniard seems to be eyeing more rest and recovery in between the Australian Open and Indian Wells.

“It will most likely be the last time I play in Mexico, Acapulco 2023 is not on my calendar and the 2024 season seems far away,” he told press. “Now is the time to enjoy this moment to the fullest and play in an emblematic setting, with many people and in a country where I have always felt loved.”


Closing out their exhibition tour on Mexican soil was a fitting farewell, as Acapulco had also once marked a major milestone in Nadal’s career: When an 18-year-old Nadal first lifted the Acapulco trophy in 2005, it heralded his arrival with his first “big” title.

After his 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over Ruud in the bull ring, the world No. 2 returned to Mallorca for some much needed family time—and to start fine-tuning preparations for the 2023 season.

Nadal’s first event will be the inaugural United Cup, joining Paula Badosa and Albert Ramos-Vinolas in representing Spain at the mixed team event. The United Cup will take place on 29 December to 8 January 8, 2023 in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney, Australia.