‘He’s going to be a fantastic player,’ says Rafael Nadal after handing tough lesson to birthday boy Carlos Alcaraz

Shahida Jacobs
Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz shaking hands

Rafael Nadal was in no mood to go easy on Carlos Alcaraz’s 18th birthday as he brushed aside the teenager at the Madrid Open, but he predicted great things for the teenager after their clash.

Dubbed a “generational match” before current tennis icon Nadal and up and coming star Alcaraz stepped onto Manolo Santana Stadium, the encounter didn’t quite live up to expectation as the veteran overwhelmed the young gun.

The 20-time Grand Slam winner claimed a straightforward 6-1, 6-2 victory in one hour and 15 minutes.

Nadal broke twice in the first set and three times in the second, although Alcaraz did manage to break once in the second set.

The world No 2, though, had nothing but praise for the 18-year-old.

“He has a lot of potential. He’s young and a good guy,” he said. “He already has a great level of tennis today, but I really believe that he’s going to be a fantastic player in the near future.”

He added: “I wish him all the very best. (As a) Spanish player and Spanish (tennis) fan, I really believe that we need somebody like him, and it’s great to have him here.”

Alexei Popyrin awaits in the third round after the Australian upset Italian teenager Jannik Sinner 7-6 (7-5), 6-2.

Recently crowned Monte-Carlo Masters champion Stefanos Tsitsipas claimed an equally impressive win as he beat Benoit Paire 6-1, 6-2 in just 54 minutes.

The fourth seed will face Casper Ruud next after the Norwegian beat Yoshihito Nishioka 6-1, 6-2.

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