Nadal to face promising Spanish teen at Madrid Open
Madrid: 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" matchup against the 20-time grand slam champion. Alcaraz will face his idol on the Magic Box center court on Wednesday, his birthday.
"It will be a dream come through 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 practiced 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 and other kids received PlayStations 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." In other early round 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.