‘Facing Rafael Nadal was extraordinary,’ says young Spanish gun

The young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz is the most significant prospect of this fantastic tennis nation since Rafael Nadal. An 18-year-old cracked the top-60 as the youngest player since his great compatriot almost two decades ago, marching towards the top of the men’s tennis following incredible results since the last year’s season restart. In July, Carlos claimed the first ATP title in Umag and became the youngest ATP winner since Kei Nishikori in 2008 for another milestone for his 2003 generation. Alcaraz has won at least one match at all four Majors this year, and he had a chance to celebrate the 18th birthday on the court against his idol! On May 5, Carlos played against Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open second round. For the upcoming star, it was an incredible experience that he will never forget. Nadal defeated Alcaraz 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 17 minutes in the clash between the present and the future of the Spanish and world’s tennis. The youngster experienced an early injury and played way below his best to collect only three games. Rafa lost serve once and turned over 60% of the return points won into five breaks that propelled him through. Carlos earned a break chance in the opening game and wasted it before Rafa closed the game with a service winner.

Carlos Alcaraz spoke about his first match against Rafael Nadal in Madrid.

Nadal forced the rival’s error in game two to grab the first break before Alcaraz experienced that injury a few minutes later, taking a medical timeout and losing momentum. The more experienced Spaniard held at love with a service winner at 5-1 to wrap up the opener in style. Nadal seized two breaks at the beginning of the second set before Alcaraz pulled one back to reduce the deficit and show the fighting spirit. Marching towards the top, Rafa placed a perfect return winner for a break at love in game five and crossed the finish line with a smash winner at 5-2 on his third match point to reach the last 16. After the match, Feliciano Lopez and Rafael Nadal gifted Carlos a birthday cake and made it a memorable day for the youngster.

“I will never forget my match against Rafa in Madrid. It was an incredible experience. Playing Challengers is not a problem for me. I still need to play these events to improve my ranking and get in the ATP draws directly. Oeiras is a very strong tournament; I want to win it, and I have the level to fight for the title,” Carlos Alcaraz said.