Saturday, December 4News That Matters

Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal sweeps aside teenage star Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets

Rafael Nadal brushed off the challenge of his fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz at the Madrid Open as the world No 2 cruised to a straight-sets win over the teenager.

Nadal won 6-1, 6-2 against the 18-year-old, who idolises him and had called their meeting ‘a dream come true’ on his birthday. Alcaraz is being earmarked as the next big thing in Spanish tennis and a possible successor to Nadal.

But he has a long way to go if their second round clash is anything to go by – with Alcaraz making a series of unforced errors, with Nadal relatively unfazed. The 20-time Grand Slam winner is ramping up his preparations ahead of the French Open, which starts on May 24.

Rafael Nadal comfortably beat Spanish starlet Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid Open second round

Rafael Nadal comfortably beat Spanish starlet Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid Open second round

Rafael Nadal comfortably beat Spanish starlet Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid Open second round

The world No.2 simply had too much quality for the youngster as he cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win

The world No.2 simply had too much quality for the youngster as he cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win

The world No.2 simply had too much quality for the youngster as he cruised to a 6-1, 6-2 win

The 18-year-old's performance was littered with unforced errors during his dream birthday tie

The 18-year-old's performance was littered with unforced errors during his dream birthday tie

The 18-year-old’s performance was littered with unforced errors during his dream birthday tie

Nadal was full of praise for Alcaraz after the match and urged fans to be patient with him and he makes his way up the ranks. 

‘It was a difficult match against a youngster who has been playing very well and who has an enormous potential ahead of him,’ he said. ‘All he needs is some time. 

‘In addition to being a great tennis player, he also has great values, which is something society needs right now.’

He was presented with a cake on court by tournament director Feliciano Lopez after turning 18

He was presented with a cake on court by tournament director Feliciano Lopez after turning 18

He was presented with a cake on court by tournament director Feliciano Lopez after turning 18

Alcaraz worships countryman Nadal and called their meeting in Madrid 'a dream come true'

Alcaraz worships countryman Nadal and called their meeting in Madrid 'a dream come true'

Alcaraz worships countryman Nadal and called their meeting in Madrid ‘a dream come true’ 

Alcaraz – currently ranked 120th in the world – will have taken plenty away from the experience, and he was treated to a birthday treat as tournament director Feliciano Lopez brought out a cake – with a small crowd singing happy birthday to him.

He had previously become the youngest player to win a match at the tournament when he beat Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0.

But while the media are quick to lap up Alcaraz’s development and compare him to Nadal, his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero has moved to play down the plaudits, saying the early pressure will not help him.  

He has been touted as a successor to Nadal and is one of the hottest talents in Spanish tennis

He has been touted as a successor to Nadal and is one of the hottest talents in Spanish tennis

He has been touted as a successor to Nadal and is one of the hottest talents in Spanish tennis 

‘In Spain, everybody is saying that he’s the next Rafa,’ he said. ‘For him, it’s not easy to hear that. 

‘He’s not saying anything about it and as his team, we are trying to make a big wall around him.

‘We’re trying to make him do his own thing and play a good level. We’re not trying to hear all the mosquitoes that are around. But this isn’t easy.’