'Rafael Nadal is mentally incredible', says expert

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'Rafael Nadal is mentally incredible', says expert

Four Americans and defending champion Cristian Garin highlight Thursday's schedule for the Fayez Sarofim & Co. US Men's Clay Court Championship at River Oaks Country Club. The game starts at 12 noon on Thursday. Singles matches at Stadium Court will be available to watch on ESPN3.

Click here for online links and the rest of the TV schedule. Former champions Garin (2019), Steve Johnson (2018, 2017) and John Isner (2013) continue their journey to repeat the championship at River Oaks on Thursday. Defending champion Garin takes on Australia's Jordan Thompson no earlier than 2 pm, while Johnson and No.

4 seed Isner go head-to-head in the final match of the night on Stadium Court. Johnson defeated Isner in the quarterfinals en route to his second straight title at River Oaks in 2018. Top-ranked American and No. 2 seed Taylor Fritz opens his River Oaks campaign when he takes on Chile's Alejandro Tabilo no sooner than 6 pm Fritz won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Indian Wells last month.

Three-time ATP Tour finalist Frances Tiafoe, the No. 6 seed, is seeking her first quarterfinal appearance at River Oaks when she takes on Uruguay's Pablo Cuevas. Cuevas won the previous clay-court matchup with Tiafoe when the two played in the quarterfinals in Estoril, Portugal.

Rafael Nadal had the best start to 2022. He won the first tournament he took part in, at the Melbourne Summer Set. This was his first tournament after a long hiatus due to a foot injury.

Mouratoglou on Rafael Nadal

Patrick Mouratoglou lavished praise on Carlos Alcaraz, remarking that he agreed with the popular assessment that the Spaniard is the heir apparent to Rafael Nadal.

"I completely understand the comparison with Rafa. Firstly they are both Spanish, secondly they are super physical players. Third, they are mentally incredible. It is already a lot. I think they have the same style of play. I'm talking about Rafa today and not Rafa at the age of Alcaraz," Mouratoglou said.

"He was playing completely different, much further back with long rallies and spin and now he is more aggressive. I would say Carlos Alcaraz is the modern version of Rafa." The 51-year-old further declared that unlike Nadal, Alcaraz had a more classic approach to the game.

"There are a lot of differences too. There is a rightie and a leftie and that makes a big difference. Rafa's technique is unique and I would say Carlos Alcaraz's is a bit more classic," Mouratoglou said. "When you watch them play it doesn't look like they are the same, but in terms of quality there are similarities and in the style of play too."

Rafael Nadal