Teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz will get his wish. On Wednesday, the day of his 18th birthday, Alcaraz will take on the Rafael Nadal on center court at the Madrid Masters.
The youngster fought through a tough first set then blew away French veteran Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0 to set up the huge generational battle in two days.
The 17-year-old who has been one of the breakthrough stories of 2021 becomes the youngster player to win a match at the tournament.
“I watch Rafa Nadal a lot,” Alcaraz said. “I always wish to play against Rafa, learn from him. I don’t know how to describe this feeling now. Is a dream come true. As you said, I know a little his game. Yeah, I will try to play my best and let’s see what happen.”
Regardless of what happens Wednesday, he hopes to crack the Top 50. He was as low as No. 146 at the start of February, and will go into the Nadal match at No. 120.
“I try to improve in each tournament,” Alcaraz said. “Every match help me to grow up as a player. I try to keep the best of each match and try to improve the bad things I did in every match. I feel that I’m growing up in every tournament. I hope to end the season in the best 50.”
Two seeds fell on Monday in three sets. Pablo Carreno Busta lost to qualifier Federica Delbonis while Grigor Dimitrov lost in a final set breaker to Lloyd Harris.
It was a mixed day for American big men. John Isner pumped 28 aces to get past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 7-6 but Reilly Opelka was bounced by Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-4.
Fellow American Marcos Giron won the match of the day besting Pablo Andujar 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 7-5 in a match that went for nearly 3.5 hours.
Aslan Karatsev upended Ugo Humbert and Fabio Fognini and Dan Evans were also victors.
On Tuesday, more big names make their debuts. Dominic Thiem returns to take on Giron who might not much left in the tank.
Karen Khachanov collides with Kei Nishikori, Fognini faces countryman Matteo Berrettini, Felix Auger-Aliassime meets Christian Ruud and also on court are Andrey Rublev, Jannik Sinner and Roberto Bautista Agut.
“Is going to be for sure a tough match,” Fognini said of his battle ahead against Berrettini. “At the moment I’m not any more the better ranking. As we play probably five years ago, well, I don’t remember. Is going to be high up, good match for sure. I mean, for the people, they have a chance to come again and watch us playing.
“Second thing, I mean, nothing to say. We know each other. As I say before, it’s interesting because now he have everything to lose, I have nothing to lose because of course I’m not in the highest ranking any more.
“He’s coming, is really young, and is better ranking.”
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