Rafael Nadal: ‘Carlos Alcaraz will be an amazing player’

Under the careful guidance of a former world no. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, the young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz has made a name for himself and became a teenager to watch in the years to come. Carlos won the first Futures title in 2019 and reached the first Challenger quarter-final, with plenty more to come in the following season. In the opening two months of the 2020 season, Alcaraz won two Futures titles and scored the first ATP win in Rio de Janeiro. Still, he saved his best for the season restart, securing three Challenger titles and setting eyes on the top-100 in 2021. As it turned out, Carlos was ready for much more, winning already 15 ATP matches so far this year and securing the first ATP title in Umag as the younger player since Kei Nishikori in Delray Beach 2008! This week, a teenager will compete at the Cincinnati Masters 1000 event, passing qualifying rounds and hoping for a deep run in the main draw.

Competing against Carlos in May at home in Madrid, the 20-time Major champion Rafael Nadal praised the young compatriot and said he should become a fantastic player shortly. In that Caja Magica encounter, Nadal beat Alcaraz 6-1, 6-2 in the second round in an hour and 17 minutes. The youngster could not do much against the mighty opponent, experiencing an early injury and playing way below his best to stay on three games. Rafa lost serve once and turned over 60% of the return points won into five breaks that kept him safe. Nadal hit 13 winners and eight unforced errors and took advantage of almost 30 unforced errors from an 18-year-old to race into the last 16.

Rafael Nadal honored his young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz after their Madrid clash.

Carlos wasted a break chance in the first game and Rafa broke him a few minutes later to forge the advantage. Alcaraz experienced an injury and took a medical timeout before Nadal raced into a 4-0 lead. The more experienced Spaniard held at love in game five with an incredible forehand down the line winner and held at love with a service winner to wrap up the opener in 36 minutes at 5-1. Continuing where he left, the five-time Madrid Open champion scored two breaks at the beginning of the second set and forged a 3-0 lead before Alcaraz pulled one break back to reduce the deficit and show the fighting spirit. In game five, Rafa placed a perfect return winner for a break at love and crossed the finish line with a smash winner at 5-2 on his third match point. 

“Carlos has massive potential. He is young, dedicated and a good guy. He already has an excellent level of tennis today, and I believe that he will be a fantastic player shortly. I wish him all the very best. As a Spanish player and Spanish tennis fan, I think that we need someone like Carlos, and it’s great to have him here,” Rafael Nadal said.