Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal finished the season inside the top-2 and wrote Spanish tennis history. Alcaraz becomes the youngest year-end no. 1, while Nadal stands as the oldest year-end no. 2 player, taking the honor from Roger Federer.
Alcaraz and Nadal are the first year-end top-2 players from the same country since Pete Sampras and Michael Chang in 1996. Two great compatriots have met three times on the Tour, and they will battle again in three months. Nadal and Alcaraz have set an exhibition match in Las Vegas on March 5 next year, facing each other at MGM Grand Garden Arena ahead of Indian Wells.
Fitting the venue, the encounter gets a boxing-style name of "The Slam: Nadal vs. Alcaraz" and should bring many tennis fans to Las Vegas. Nadal and Alcaraz played for the first time in Madrid last year. The young gun got injured in the early stages and suffered a 6-1, 6-2 loss on his debut in front of the home fans.
Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz will play in Las Vegas in March.
A lot has changed since then, and Carlos became one of the world's leading players less than 12 months later. A teenager and the legend played their second duel in this year's Indian Wells semi-final.
The clash went down to the wire, and Nadal prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and 12 minutes for a place in the final. Carlos served revenge at Caja Magica in May, beating Rafa for the first time following a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory in two hours and 28 minutes.
Alcaraz showed no sign of nerves against a 21-time Major winner. The youngster fired almost 40 winners and bounced back after the second set to deliver his first victory over his famous compatriot. Carlos hurt his ankle in the second set and let it go, not wasting strength and energy.
Rafa claimed it 6-1 and became a favorite ahead of the decider. Alcaraz made a fresh start in the decider and controlled the scoreboard with brave and bold strokes. A teenager built the advantage and fired an incredible forehand down the line winner in game nine to seal the deal and find himself in the semi-final.
Alcaraz and Nadal will be the top seeds at the upcoming Australian Open, hoping to arrange their first duel at Majors and battle for the title.