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Rafael Nadal to face promising Spanish teenager at Madrid Open

The 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-0 on Monday to set up the "dream" matchup against the 20-time grand slam champion.

Nadal vs Carlos AlcarazNadal vs Carlos Alcaraz: Alcaraz will face his idol on the Magic Box center court on Wednesday, his birthday. (AP)

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.

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“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.

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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.

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Fabio Fognini, who was disqualified from the Barcelona Open because of foul language, defeated Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberner 7-6 (4) 2-6 6-3 to set up an all-Italian clash against Matteo Berrettini in the second round.

John Isner defeated Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 7-6 (6), while fellow American Reilly Opelka lost to Dominik Koepfer 6-4 6-4. Other US players who won were Marcos Giron and Tommy Paul.

In the women’s draw, top-ranked Ashleigh Barty defeated French Open champion Iga Swiatek 7-5 6-4 in a round-of-16 match, while Spaniard Paula Badosa got past Anastasija Sevastova 6-7 (0) 7-6 (3) 6-0.

Petra Kvitova defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-3 4-6 6-4, while eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic advanced after Ons Jabeur retired.

First published on: 04-05-2021 at 10:19:18 am
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