Rafael Nadal, Feliciano Lopez present birthday cake to Carlos Alcaraz at Caja Magica



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Rafael Nadal, Feliciano Lopez present birthday cake to Carlos Alcaraz at Caja Magica

Born in 2003, Carlos Alcaraz didn't need much time to show his potential and become the leader of his generation. In 2019, the youngster won the first Futures title and reached the Challenger quarter-final, raising his level even higher following the last year's season restart to claim three Challenger crowns and move closer to the top-100.

Carlos qualified for the Australian Open in January and became the youngest player with a Major win in Melbourne for a massive boost. A teenager reached the semi-final in Marbella and scored his first Masters 1000 victory in Madrid against Adrian Mannarino.

On his 18th birthday, Carlos faced his idol Rafael Nadal in the second round, losing in straight sets and receiving the birthday cake from Rafa and the tournament director Feliciano Lopez. Rafa beat the young compatriot 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 17 minutes.

Carlos got injured in the early stages and couldn't play at his best, unable to challenge world no. 1 and finishing his first Madrid Open campaign in the second round. Rafa lost serve once and converted over 60% of the return points won into five breaks that carried him over the top.

Nadal fired 13 winners and eight unforced errors and took advantage of almost 30 unforced errors from an 18-year-old. Carlos made a strong start and placed three deep returns to earn a break chance in the first game, wasting and allowing Rafa to close the game with a service winner.

Carlos Alcaraz celebrated the 18th birthday after losing to Rafael Nadal in Madrid.

Nadal forced the rival's error in the second game to secure the first break before Carlos suffered that injury a few minutes later, taking the medical timeout and losing momentum.

Rafa won the third game with a volley winner and grabbed another break for a 4-0 advantage. Nadal held at love in game five with an incredible forehand down the line winner, and Alcaraz brought the next game home at 15 to get his name on the scoreboard.

Serving at 5-1, Rafa held at love with a service winner to wrap up the opener in 36 minutes, hoping for more of the same in set number two. Continuing where he left, the five-time Madrid Open champion grabbed two breaks at the beginning of the second set to forge a 3-0 lead before Alcaraz pulled one break back to reduce the deficit.

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.