The staging of Rafael Nadal in the Madrid tournament was a master class for Carlos Alcaraz, surpassed by the high level of the first favorite (6-1 and 6-2) and, probably, also by the environment and all the repercussion generated before a risky generational duel.
The best Spanish athlete in history against a promising player who aims high, with the conditions for one day to become among the greats of the racket but who still has a long way to go. A debutant in front of one of the players with the most presence in Madrid. Five-time champion of this Masters 1.000 and, among many other things, with twenty Grand Slam behind him. The king of the earth and a boy who appears in the circuit.
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Alcaraz came of age on the Manolo Santana track, the main one, of the Caja Mágica, before his idol. A dream come true. But conditioned by the pressure and overcome by the story, with almost no time to enjoy. No option to trace his game or reveal his tennis. Seventy-six minutes the duel lasted.
From the start he was subdued by Nadal, who on the track does not contemplate another option other than to win. The number two in the world submitted from the beginning to Alcaraz, who, unable to put aside the pressure, did not find a place on the track, peace. He erred excessively and barely kept his pulse in the exchanges proposed by his rival.
In the third game of the match, with 2-0 and 30-15 against, Juan Carlos Ferrero's pupil, winner in the Caja Mágica in 2015 in the sub-12 category and later a finalist in the sub-16 category, needed attention of the doctor after falling on the ground and feeling an abdominal pull when trying to return a high ball from the Balearic Islands.
The game passed quickly. Rafa Nadal does not usually give away. It was from the fourth game of the second set that Alcaraz had some outburst and brought out some of the qualities of his game. But he had no choice. The Spaniard kept the pace without giving the option of any hint of reaction or surprise.
He did not give the sensation of enjoying Alcaraz on his eighteenth birthday, but of suffering before a player who represents where he intends to go. You will not forget it.
Rafael Nadal got off to a firm start in Madrid, launched towards the round of XNUMX, the next step towards his sixth title in the Spanish capital. A rival awaits in the next stage that will come out of the match between Australian Alexei Popyrin and Italian Jannik Sinner, fourteenth seed.