A year ago, Carlos Alcaraz celebrated his 18th birthday on the court at the home Masters 1000 event in Madrid against his idol! Carlos became the youngest match winner in Madrid, taking the record away from Rafael Nadal and facing a great compatriot in round two.
Nadal wished all the best to the upcoming star, but he did not want to gift him anything on the court outside the birthday cake, beating Alcaraz 6-1, 6-2. A year later, Carlos has joined Rafa in the top-10 as the youngest player in that group since his compatriot.
They are through into the third round in Madrid, and if they score wins on Thursday, they will set the mouth-watering quarter-final duel on Friday. It was all about Nadal last year, as he toppled an injured youngster in an hour and 17 minutes.
Alcaraz could not do much against the mighty rival, especially after experiencing an injury in the encounter's early stages. Still, it was an excellent experience for a birthday boy and a match he will never forget. Rafa lost serve once and turned over 60% of the return points won into five breaks that propelled him through.
Carlos made a strong start in the first game and earned a break chance. He squandered it and allowed Rafa to close 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.
Rafa won the third game and seized another break for a 4-0 advantage. The more experienced Spaniard held at love with a service winner at 5-1 to wrap up the opener in 36 minutes. Nadal seized two breaks at the beginning of the second set before Alcaraz pulled one back to reduce the deficit and show his fighting spirit.
Leaving that game behind him, 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. Their second clash came in Indian Wells this March, and it turned into open war.
Nadal prevailed in three sets after over three hours, and it should be interesting to see them on the court again in Madrid this week. "I will never forget my match against Rafa in Madrid. It was an incredible experience," Carlos Alcaraz said.