'Dream come true': Tennis world erupts over Rafa Nadal development

Riley Morgan
·Sports Reporter
·3-min read
Rafael Nadal hugging tennis star Carlos Alzaraz when he was younger (pictured left) and during training when they are older (pictured right).
Rafael Nadal pictured with rising tennis star Carlos Alzaraz when he was younger (pictured left) and at the Australian Open (pictured right) in 2021. (Images: @carlitosalcarazz)

The tennis world is waiting in anticipation as Spanish prodigy Carlos Alcaraz is set to line-up against one of his idols Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Open.

It wasn't too long ago that Rafael Nadal was handing Alcaraz a PlayStation as the boy's prize at a local tennis tournament in Spain.

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But the 17-year-old rising star became the youngest ever winner at the Madrid Open after defeating Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0 in the First Round.

He will now line-up against his idol on centre court on his 18th birthday.

"For me, (to) play against Rafa is a dream come true," Alcaraz said.

"Since I was a kid, I wished to play a match against Rafa and now I will be able to... It is a really special match against Rafa."

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Alcaraz trains with Nadal in Australia

Earlier this year, Nadal invited the young Spaniard to train with him ahead of the Australian Open after he made Round 2.

Alcaraz said he takes any opportunity to watch the 20-time Grand Slam champion when not playing.

“I watch Rafa Nadal a lot,” Alcaraz said in Madrid.

“Yeah, I always wish to play against Rafa, learn from him. I don't know how to describe this feeling now. It's a dream come true. As you said, I know his game a little. I will try to play my best and let's see what happen.”

To put the age gap in perspective, Nadal had already played seven ATP matches (and won four) by the time Alcaraz was born.

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Alcaraz 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," Alcaraz said.

"I'll try to play my game and to keep learning and keep having fun."

World No.2 Nadal, who has an opening-round bye, will be chasing his sixth title in the Spanish capital after claiming his 87th tour-level title in Barcelona last month.

with AAP

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