Tennis world erupts over Rafa Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz twist

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Pictured left to right Carlos Alcaraz and Rafa Nadal celebrate their wins at the Madrid Open.
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafa Nadal will meet in an all-Spanish blockbuster quarter-final in Madrid. Pic: Getty

Excitement is building in the tennis world after 21-time grand slam champion Rafael Nadal and his heir apparent Carlos Alcaraz set up a mouthwatering quarter-final showdown at the Madrid Open.

The 19-year-old Alcaraz battled past Britain's Cam Norrie with a hard-fought 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3 triumph at the Manolo Santana Stadium to set up the all-Spanish clash in the last eight.

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Nadal's passage through to the quarter-finals was even more difficult, with the clay court maestro forced to save four match points before taking down David Goffin in extraordinary scenes.

Just like his beloved Real Madrid did the night before to reach the Champions League final, Nadal fought his way back from the brink to win a lengthy tie-break and secure the 1050th win of his career in a 6-3 5-7 7-6 (11-9) epic.

The win kept alive Nadal's quest for a record-extending sixth title in the Spanish capital.

Alcaraz will be hoping to spoil the party for Nadal after celebrating his 19th birthday with a gritty win against Norrie in which he overcame four break point chances in the deciding set.

The match-up between master and apprentice will be the third time Nadal and Alcaraz have met, with the veteran Spaniard prevailing on both occasions.

"I lost twice against him and I wanted to play against him the third time," Alcaraz said of the marquee matchup.

"I think it's going to be different from last year [in Madrid] and the last match that we played [in Indian Wells]. I'm excited to play against Rafa here in Madrid in front of the Spanish crowd. It's going to be a great day and a great match."

Carlos Alcaraz in dream match-up against Rafa Nadal

Asked how he planned on beating the 21-time grand slam champion, Alcaraz admitted it would be extremely difficult against an opponent who never gives up.

"Honestly, I don't know. I always say that he has 1,000 lives. He dies and he survives, in every tough match for him," Alcaraz said after watching Nadal save four match points to advance to the quarter-finals.

"I think if I play a pretty good game, I'll have chances to win."

A five-time champion in the Spanish capital, Nadal is looking to match Novak Djokovic's career record of 37 ATP Masters 1000 titles this week.

Returning to action for the first time since losing to Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells final, after which he discovered he had a stress fracture of a rib, Nadal was taken all the way by Goffin.

Indeed, the Belgian qualifier won four straight games from 5-3 down in the second set to force a decider, but he saw four opportunities to advance to the quarter-finals go begging.

Nadal subsequently prevailed to reach his 99th Masters 1000 quarter-final, setting up a last-eight showdown with teenage compatriot Carlos Alcaraz.

Rafa Nadal saved four match points to beat David Goffin at the Madrid Open. Image: Getty
Rafa Nadal saved four match points to beat David Goffin at the Madrid Open. Image: Getty

Defending champion Alexander Zverev reached his fifth successive quarter-final at this event after beating Lorenzo Musetti, who retired with a thigh injury shortly after losing the opening set, at 6-3 1-0 down.

Next up for Zverev is Felix Auger-Aliassime, the Rotterdam Open champion, who is targeting a first clay-court Masters 1000 semi-final. Auger-Aliassime won 90 per cent of points on first serve in a commanding 6-1 6-2 victory over Jannik Sinner.

Stefanos Tsitsipas also produced a strong-serving display in his 6-3 6-4 triumph over Grigor Dimitrov. Last season’s French Open runner-up hit 10 aces along the way.

The fourth seed set up a showdown with Andrey Rublev, who had eight aces as he overcame Dan Evans 7-6 (9-7) 7-5.

Meanwhile, Hubert Hurkacz will play Djokovic in the last eight after hitting 16 aces in his 7-5 6-3 win over Dusan Lajovic. Djokovic's much-anticipated clash with Andy Murray was called off, with the Briton unwell, handing his Serbian rival a walkover.

with agencies

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