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Dream birthday bash for Carlos Alcaraz

The Spanish great is about to play against the promising youngster in the second round of the Madrid Open
Rafael Nadal.

Agencies   |   Madrid   |   Published 05.05.21, 03:09 AM

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.

The 17-year-old Alcaraz defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0 on Monday to set up the “dream” match-up against the 20-time Grand Slam champion. Alcaraz will face his idol on the Magic Box centre court on Wednesday, his birthday.

His maiden ATP Masters 1000 match win on Monday also made 120th-ranked Alcaraz the youngest match winner in Madrid -- eclipsing 18-year-old Nadal’s record in 2004.

“It will be a dream come true 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.”

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 practised together at the Australian Open, where Alcaraz reached the second round.

He won the under-12 title in Madrid in 2015, and two years later reached the final in the under-16 event. A few years ago, Alcaraz received a PlayStation from Nadal after competing in a tournament.

“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.”

World No. 2  Nadal, who has received an opening-round bye, will be chasing his sixth title in the Spanish capital after claiming his 87th tour-level title in Barcelona last month.

In other matches, Daniel Evans defeated Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-2 and Danis Shapovalov got past Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3.

Fabio Fognini, who was disqualified from the Barcelona Open because of foul language, defeated Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberner 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3. He subsequently lost to compatriot Matteo Berrettini 6-3, 6-4 in the second round.

John Isner defeated Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 7-6 (6) while fellow American Reilly Opelka lost to Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-4.

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