On Wednesday, Rafael Nadal defeated Carlos Alcaraz 6-1, 6-2 in an hour and 17 minutes in the Madrid Open second round. It was the clash between the present and the future of the Spanish and probably world's tennis, with Carlos standing as one of the players to beat in the following decade.
Alcaraz has been the leading figure of the 2003 generation, winning his first Futures title in 2019 at 16 and improving his game under the guidance of a former world no. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero. When the season restarted last August, Carlos was there to show his true colors, winning three Challenger crowns and moving closer to the top-100 group.
Alcaraz qualified for the Australian Open and became the youngest player with a Major win in Melbourne since 2014. A teenager reached the Marbella semi-final and scored his first Masters 1000 victory in Madrid on Monday against Adrian Mannarino.
Carlos earned a bagel in the second set and got a chance to play against his idol Rafael Nadal on his 18th birthday. The youngster couldn't do much against the mighty opponent, experiencing an injury in the early stages and playing way below his best.
Rafa lost serve once and turned over 60% of the return points won into five breaks that kept him safe. Nadal hit 13 winners and eight unforced errors and took advantage of almost 30 unforced errors from an 18-year-old to race into the last 16.
Rafael Nadal honored his young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz after their Madrid clash.
Carlos made a strong start in the first game and earned a break chance, wasting it and allowing Rafa to close the game with a service winner.
Nadal forced the rival's error in the second game to grab the first break before Carlos experienced that injury a few minutes later. Rafa won the third game with a volley winner and seized another break for a 4-0 advantage.
The more experienced Spaniard held at love in game five with an incredible forehand down the line winner and held at love with a service winner to wrap up the opener in 36 minutes at 5-1. Continuing where he left, the five-time Madrid Open champion scored two breaks at the beginning of the second set and forged a 3-0 lead before Alcaraz pulled one break back to reduce the deficit and show the 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. Praising his young compatriot, Rafa said that Carlos has a massive potential to carry him towards the top in the upcoming years.
"Carlos has massive potential. He is young, dedicated and a good guy. He already has an excellent level of tennis today, and I believe that he will be a fantastic player in the near future. I wish him all the very best. As a Spanish player and Spanish tennis fan, I think that we need someone like Carlos, and it's great to have him here," Rafael Nadal said.