Carlos Alcaraz sent message by ‘hero’ Rafael Nadal ahead of ATP Finals

Ewan West
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal at the net
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells

Rafael Nadal has sent fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz a message of support ahead of his debut at the ATP Finals in Turin next week. 

The tennis legend replied to a video of Alcaraz naming him as his “hero” and discussing his ambition to be “one of the best tennis players in history.”

Alcaraz will make his first appearance at the ATP Finals at the 2023 edition, having been forced to miss the season-ending championships last year through injury after qualifying.

The world No 2 has won six titles during a superb 2023 season, but has endured a more difficult period following his stunning Wimbledon victory – which was the last tournament he won.

Since then, the 20-year-old has reached one final in his next six events and suffered a straight-set defeat to Roman Safiullin in his opening match at last week’s Paris Masters. He still holds an elite 63-10 (86.3%) record this year.

Alcaraz has lost two of his three matches with Nadal, but he prevailed in three sets in the quarter-finals of the 2022 Madrid Open in the pair’s most recent encounter.

In a video shared on the Instagram account for the Western & Southern Open tournament in Cincinnati, Alcaraz spoke about his goal to be a tennis great and how he admired Nadal while growing up.

“Well, I want to be one of the best tennis players in history. To, you know, being in the same table as the legend, Rafa. Rafa was my hero when I was young, when I started playing tennis. I used to watch his matches, finals, lifting the best trophies in the world, I felt, for me, Rafa was my hero growing up,” said the Spaniard.

In a comment tagging Alcaraz in reply to the post, Nadal expressed his appreciation for the young star’s words and wished his countryman well for the Turin showpiece.

“Big hug and good luck in Turin 💪🏻🙌,” wrote the 22-time Grand Slam champion on Instagram.

Nadal has not played since suffering a hip injury in his second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the 2023 Australian Open in January. The former world No 1 underwent surgery on the issue in June, having initially expected to be out for only six to eight weeks.

The 37-year-old was forced to postpone his planned comeback during the clay-court season and missed the French Open for the first time since 2004. The Mallorcan is currently training ahead of a proposed return to action in 2024, which he has revealed will likely be his final season on the tour.

Speaking to the Onda Cero Spanish radio station recently, Toni Nadal revealed he expects his nephew to be ready to play at the 2024 Australian Open.

“My nephew intends to be cautious, which is the right approach. But I believe that for the Australian Open, my nephew should be in good condition to compete, all going well, because I have seen him train,” said the 62-year-old.

“Every day he is improving a bit. It’s true that it has been a very long-term injury, but well, that’s how it is. In high-level sports, in the end, it’s almost obligatory to play with pain, unfortunately, because you push your body to the limit, and pushing it to the limit is what leads to all these problems.

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