A very miniscule number of players get a chance to see the prowess that Rafa is on a clay court in full flow.
And Carlos Alcaraz is set to enter that elite list of players and that too on his 18th birthday. Alcaraz defeated France’s Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-0 to earn his first ATP 1000 win as well as secure a dream clash against King of clay and fellow compatriot Rafael Nadal. The result also made 120th-ranked Alcaraz the youngest match-winner in Madrid – eclipsing 18-year-old Nadal’s record in 2004.
Alcaraz, who is competing in Madrid on a wild card, turned pro in 2018 and has been considered by many as Spain’s successor to 34-year-old Nadal. They practiced together at the Australian Open, where Alcaraz reached the second round.
Alcaraz-From pupil to rival
It wasn’t too long ago that Rafael Nadal was handing Carlos Alcaraz a PlayStation as the boy’s prize at a local tennis tournament in Spain.
Now the Spanish great is about to play against the promising youngster in the second round of the Madrid Open.
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“It will be a dream come through to play against Rafa here,” Alcaraz said.
“I’ve wanted to play against him since I was a kid. There will be no better way than while celebrating my 18th birthday.”
I’ll try to be as relaxed as possible,” the 120th-ranked Alcaraz said. “I’ll try to play my game and to keep learning and keep having fun.”
Earlier, backed by a reduced home crowd inside Manolo Santana Stadium, Alcaraz rushed Mannarino in the early stages with depth on his groundstrokes and fired multiple forehand winners to race into a 2-0 lead. The Murcia native maintained his lead to serve for the first set at 5-4 and he converted his first set point with a crosscourt backhand winner.
The second set however was where Alcaraz truly showed his talent by bagelling Mannarino and improving his record to 7-7 this year.
Naomi Osaka suffers a shock exit-
Naomi Osaka suffered a shock second-round exit to Karolina Muchova at the Madrid Open, but there was no such trouble for Simona Halep as she held off Zheng Saisai.
Second seed Osaka was playing just her second match on clay since the 2019 French Open due to injury issues and became the latest big name to fall at the hands of Muchova.
The world number 20, who had already defeated two top-five players this season, prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-1 in a time of one hour and 49 minutes in the Spanish capital.
Two-time champion Halep has yet to drop a set in this year’s tournament after seeing off unseeded opponent Zheng 6-0 6-4.
Halep took nine games in a row at the start of the match but, like in her opening-round win over Sara Sorribes Tormo, she had to hold off a late surge from her opponent to advance.