Rafael Nadal: 'I'm excited'

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Rafael Nadal: 'I'm excited'

Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal wrote Spanish tennis history in the season behind us. The duo claimed three Major titles, leading the ranking and finishing in the top-2 as the first pair from the same country since Pete Sampras and Michael Chang in 1996.

Alcaraz is the youngest year-end no. 1 player, and Nadal is the oldest year-end top-2 player, writing history books and hoping for more in 2023. The Spaniards will be the top seeds at the upcoming Australian Open, with a possible title clash.

Nadal and Alcaraz have arranged an exhibition match, facing each other on March 5, 2023, at Las Vegas MGM Grand Garden Arena ahead of Indian Wells. Nadal promoted the event, saying he is excited to visit Las Vegas and compete against his compatriot.

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 have met three times on the Tour, with the veteran winning two matches.

Their first duel came in Madrid last year, and Nadal lost only three games against the 17-year-old who got injured in the early stages.

Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz will play in Las Vegas on March 5, 2023.

A lot has changed since then, and Carlos became one of the world's leading players less than 12 months later.

Carlos and Rafa trained together ahead of this year's Indian Wells and met in the semi-final. The clash went down to the wire, and Nadal prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 after three hours and 12 minutes for a place in the title clash.

Carlos served revenge at Caja Magica two months later, 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 in front of the home fans.

The youngster fired almost 40 winners and bounced back after the second set to deliver his first victory over the king of clay. Carlos hurt his ankle in the second set and let it go, not wasting energy ahead of the decider.

Alcaraz made a fresh start in the decider and controlled the scoreboard with brave 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.