Fans erupt over Rafael Nadal’s development

Rafael Nadal pictured with rising tennis star Carlos Alzaraz when he was younger (pictured left) and at the Australian Open (pictured right) in 2021 (Images: @carlitosalcarazz)

The tennis world is eagerly awaiting Spanish prodigy Carlos Alcaraz set to face one of his idols Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Open.

Not so long ago, Rafael Nadal was giving Alcaraz a PlayStation as the boy’s prize at a local tennis tournament in Spain.

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But the 17-year-old rising star became the youngest winner at the Madrid Open after beating Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0 in the first round.

He will now line up against his idol on center court on his 18th birthday.

“For me, playing against Rafa is a dream come true,” said Alcaraz.

“Since I was a kid I wanted to play a game against Rafa and now I will be able … It’s a really special game against Rafa.”

Alcaraz trains with Nadal in Australia

Earlier this year, Nadal invited the young Spaniard to train with him ahead of the Australian Open after making the second round.

Alcaraz said he takes every opportunity to watch the 20-time Grand Slam champion when he is not playing.

“I watch Rafa Nadal a lot,” Alcaraz said in Madrid.

“Yeah, I still want to play Rafa, learn from him. I don’t know how to describe this feeling now. It is a dream come true. Like you said, I know his game a little bit. I’ll try to play my best and let’s see what happens. “

To put the age gap into perspective, Nadal had already played in seven ATP games (and won four) by the time Alcaraz was born.

Alcaraz won the Under-12 title in Madrid in 2015 and two years later reached the Under-16 final.

A few years ago, Alcaraz and other children received PlayStations from Nadal after participating in a tournament.

“I will try to be as relaxed as possible,” said Alcaraz.

“I will try to play my game and continue to learn and have fun.”

World No.2 Nadal, who has a first-round pass, will look to win his sixth title in the Spanish capital after winning his 87th touring title in Barcelona last month.

with AAP

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