In the most anticipated match of the Madrid Open second round, the 20-time Major winner Rafael Nadal plays against a birthday boy Carlos Alcaraz, who turns 18 today! It will be the first clash between the most outstanding Spanish player of all time and the upcoming star, who should lead the Spanish men's tennis in the next ten or 15 years.
Since the last year's season restart, Alcaraz has shown his full potential, winning three Challenger titles from August and finding himself on the verge of entering the top-100, still at 17. Carlos qualified for the Australian Open at the beginning of the season and became the youngest winner of a Major match since 2014.
A teenager earned a couple of wild cards at the ATP tournaments to gether experience, using it nicely in Marbella, where he advanced into the semis.
Juan Carlos Ferrero spoke about Rafael Nadal vs. Carlos Alcaraz clash.
Following early losses in Barcelona and Estoril, Alcaraz earned his first Masters 1000 victory in Madrid,k beating Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0 to set the second-round clash with the four-time Caja Magica champion Rafael Nadal.
Carlos has been working with a former world no. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, who will try to prepare his pupil for the most important match of his young career. Alcaraz and Nadal trained together in Melbourne this year, and Ferrero is sure that Rafa will not take the youngster for granted.
Ferrero praised Nadal and said he is almost unbeatable on clay. The biggest challenge for Carlos should come from the fact that Nadal plays every point like it's the last one, and it's not easy for the upcoming players to follow that pace.
"Rafa already knows Carlos because we trained together in Australia. Rafa knows that Carlos is dangerous and that he needs a high level of tennis to beat him. Any experienced player has to study the upcoming stars and recognize their best and worst shots.
Rafa has more than enough experience to know how he has to play today; it's just another match for him. We know that Rafael Nadal is practically unbeatable on clay, but the biggest challenge for Carlos will be trying to keep the mental strength throughout the encounter.
Rafa is fighting for every point, and the youngsters usually can't follow that pace and maintain a high level for the entire match. Competing against Rafa at the home event is a great motivation for Carlos; his family is here, and he is looking forward to it," Juan Carlos Ferrero said.