Carlos Alcaraz starts a match with hero Rafael Nadal on his 18th birthday after becoming the youngest player ever to win a match at the Madrid Open … beating his idol’s record
- Carlos Alcaraz will play his idol Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open on Wednesday
- The match takes place on the teenager’s 18th birthday after the first round victory
- Alcaraz became the youngest player to ever win a match at the tournament
- The Spaniard’s enormous potential has already led to comparisons with 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 will spend it on the track with a man who won his first Madrid title when Alcaraz was only two years old.
By beating Mannarino 6-4 6-0, Alcaraz beat a record set by Nadal to become the youngest player to win a match in the history of the tournament.
Carlos Alcaraz plays his tennis hero Rafael Nadal in the second round of the Madrid Open
The teenager will turn 18 on Wednesday and will spend his birthday in court with his fellow countryman
It was the youngster’s first win in an ATP Masters 1000 event – he still has a way to go to take Nadal’s 391 wins in those events.
The pair practiced together at the Australian Open earlier this year, and Alcaraz’s rapid rise in the rankings has already led to comparisons between the teenager and his countryman.
Nadal, who is looking for his sixth Madrid Open title and after the victory in Barcelona, has spoken highly of Alcaraz in the past.
“Carlos is a great player with a great tennis level,” said Nadal. “He will probably be one of the best players in the world soon.”
Wednesday’s game is only the second time that Alcaraz will take on a player who is in the top ten in the world, after losing to Alexander Zverev in Mexico in March.
Alcaraz lost to Alexander Zverev in his only previous match against a player in the top ten
Nadal’s uncle, Toni Nadal, who was a long-time member of his cousin’s coaching team, also praised Alcaraz.
However, 17-year-old coach Juan Carlos Ferrero tried to downplay his player’s unnecessary expectations after reaching the second round of the Australian Open earlier this year for his first win in the main draw of a Grand Slam.
“When you hear that from Toni, everyone has their ears open,” Ferrero said Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
‘Of course that is not easy. That pressure for a 17 year old is not great.
‘In Spain everyone says he is the next Rafa. It is not easy for him to hear that. He doesn’t say anything about it and as his team we try to build a big wall around him.
‘We try to let him do his own thing and play at a good level. We’re not trying to hear all the mosquitoes out there. But this is not easy. ‘
The Spaniard’s coach has admitted that the enormous expectation already on the youngster is not ideal