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

Rafael Nadal sweeps aside teenage star Carlos Alcaraz in straight sets at the Madrid Open as world No 2 continues his preparations for the French Open later this month

  • Rafael Nadal made short work of his countryman Carlos Alcaraz in Madrid Open 
  • The world No.2 cruised past the Spanish teenager 6-1, 6-2 to reach third round  
  • Alcaraz, 18, had clinched a dream tie with one of his heroes on his birthday
  • He has been earmarked as the next big talent in Spanish tennis after Nadal 

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.

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 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

However, Nadal was full of praise for him 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

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 

‘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.’

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Carlos Alcaraz sets up match with hero Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open on his 18th birthday

Carlos Alcaraz sets up match with hero Rafael Nadal on his 18th birthday after becoming youngest ever player to win a match at the Madrid Open… beating the record set by his idol

  • Carlos Alcaraz will play his idol Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open on Wednesday
  • The match will take place on the teenager’s 18th birthday after first round win
  • Alcaraz became the youngest player to ever win a match at the tournament
  • Spaniard’s huge potential has already led to comparisons to a young Nadal 

Carlos Alcaraz secured the perfect early birthday present after beating Adrian Mannarino in the Madrid Open to set up a second-round match with his idol Rafael Nadal.

The teenager turns 18 on Wednesday and he will spend it on court with a man who won his first Madrid title when Alcaraz was just two years old.

In beating Mannarino 6-4 6-0, Alcaraz beat a record set by Nadal to become the youngest player to win a match in the tournament’s history.

Carlos Alcaraz will play his tennis hero Rafael Nadal in the second-round of the Madrid Open

The teenager turns 18 on Wednesday and will spend his birthday on court with his countryman

The teenager turns 18 on Wednesday and will spend his birthday on court with his countryman

It was the youngster’s first win at an ATP Masters 1000 event – he has a way to go to reach Nadal’s 391 victories in those events.

The pair were seen practicing together at the Australian Open earlier this year, and Alcaraz’s quick rise through the ranks have already led to comparisons between the teenager and his fellow countryman.

Nadal, who is looking for his sixth Madrid Open title and coming off the back of victory in Barcelona, has spoken highly of Alcaraz in the past. 

‘Carlos is an amazing player with an amazing level of tennis,’ Nadal said. ‘He will probably be one of the greatest players in the world soon.’

Wednesday’s match will be just the second time Alcaraz has face a player ranked in the top ten in the world, having lost to Alexander Zverev in Mexico back in March.

Alcaraz lost to Alexander Zverev in his only previous match against a player in the top ten

Alcaraz lost to Alexander Zverev in his only previous match against a player in the top ten

Nadal’s uncle, Toni Nadal, who was for a long time part of his nephew’s coaching team, has also been full of praise for Alcaraz.

However, the 17-year-old’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero tried to downplay any unnecessary expectation put on his player after he reached the second round of the Australian Open earlier this year for his first win in the main draw of a Grand Slam.

‘If you hear that from Toni, everybody is open ears,’ Ferrero told the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.

‘Of course, that’s not easy. That pressure for someone who’s 17 – it’s not great.

‘In Spain, everybody is saying that he’s the next Rafa. 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.’

The Spaniard's coach has admitted the huge expectation already on the youngster is not ideal

The Spaniard’s coach has admitted the huge expectation already on the youngster is not ideal

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Wimbledon’s traditional day of rest on Middle Sunday is set to be scrapped from 2022

BREAKING NEWS: Wimbledon’s traditional day of rest on Middle Sunday is set to be scrapped from 2022, bringing it in line with the other three Grand Slams as a 14-day tournament

  • Wimbledon will end its tradition by having no rest day in middle of tournament
  • It’ll become 14-day Grand Slam from 2022, moving it in line with other majors 
  • The SW19 grass-court tournament traditionally had a spare day in case of rain 

Wimbledon’s traditional day of rest on the middle Sunday of the tournament will be scrapped from 2022, the All England Club has announced.

Wimbledon is currently the only Grand Slam that has a day off during the fortnight but this provides scheduling challenges, particularly when there is bad weather in the first week.

At the tournament’s spring press briefing, chairman Ian Hewitt said developments in the care of grass courts meant 14 days of play was now deemed possible. 

Wimbledon’s traditional rest day on middle Sunday of Grand Slam will be scrapped from 2022

Wimbledon is currently the only Grand Slam that has a day off during the fortnight

Wimbledon is currently the only Grand Slam that has a day off during the fortnight

SW19 traditionally had a spare day in the middle of the tournament in case of rain, causing a pile-up of matches. 

If this was the case matches would be switched to the middle Sunday so that the tournament could catch up but this rest day was only used if only absolutely necessary.

In its 144-year history the middle Sunday has only been used four times – in 1991, 1997, 2004 and 2016 – to play unfinished matches. 

The tournament will return this year after it was not held in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Hewitt said: ‘We plan to deliver the best Championships possible in accordance with public safety. It will necessarily be different from Wimbledon as we know it.’

Wimbledon fans will be able to get tickets for an extra day's play from 2022 with no rest day

Wimbledon fans will be able to get tickets for an extra day’s play from 2022 with no rest day

Wimbledon are working closely with the Government on the arrangements for this year’s tournament, beginning on June 28.

A minimum capacity of 25 per cent is currently being planned for with the hope that this can increase, with tickets expected to go on sale in June.

Hewitt revealed that Wimbledon’s foresight in taking out pandemic insurance paid off to the tune of £180million, covering the club’s losses from the cancelled 2020 event.

That enabled the AELTC to give the Lawn Tennis Association, which receives the annual surplus from the Championships, a pay-out of around £36million.

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Rafael Nadal wins his 12th Barcelona Open title after saving match point against Stefanos Tsitsipas

Rafael Nadal wins his 12th Barcelona Open title after saving a match point against Stefanos Tsitsipas with the Spaniard set to reclaim the world No 2 spot in the ATP rankings

  • Rafael Nadal beat Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim his 12th Barcelona Open title
  • The Spaniard rode his luck as he saved a match point in a pulsating final 
  • Nadal will reclaim world No 2 spot when the ATP rankings are updated 

Rafael Nadal saved match point in a pulsating final against Stefanos Tsitsipas to win his 12th Barcelona Open title.

Nadal had only lost one set in 11 previous finals in Catalonia and had never lost a clay-court final having held a match point. 

He had two in the second set but a combination of uncharacteristic misses from the Spaniard and brilliant play from his opponent helped Tsitsipas turn the match around.

Rafael Nadal rode his luck as he saved a match point to win his 12th Barcelona Open title

The Greek had his own chance to clinch back-to-back titles, having won his maiden Masters crown in Monte Carlo last week, when he held match point at 5-4 in the decider. 

But Nadal dug deep, broke the Tsitsipas serve in the next game and battled his way to a 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-5 victory in three hours and 38 minutes.

Nadal, 34, will leapfrog Russian Daniil Medvedev to take back the world No 2 spot in the updated ATP rankings on Monday. 

The 20-times Grand Slam winner will be back in action at next month’s ATP Masters 1000 tournaments in Madrid and Rome looking to carry the momentum into the French Open.

The Spaniard beat Stefanos Tsitsipas a 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-5 in three hours and 38 minutes

The Spaniard beat Stefanos Tsitsipas a 6-4, 6-7 (6), 7-5 in three hours and 38 minutes

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