Rafael Nadal issues Carlos Alcaraz warning and gives advice to his countryman

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

Rafael Nadal has warned that “we should not rush into judgments” about Carlos Alcaraz despite his potential and advised his compatriot to keep aiming to improve.

The 37-year-old recognised that Alcaraz has a “brutal projection” and possesses both “power” and “ambition”, but stressed “many things can happen” later in the careers of athletes.

Alcaraz, who turned 20 in May, has already won two major titles during a superb start to his career. The Murcian defeated Casper Ruud in four sets in the final of the 2022 US Open to claim his maiden Grand Slam crown.

The world No 2 overcame Novak Djokovic in a titanic five-set championship match to triumph at the Wimbledon Championships in July this year. He became the first player to defeat the great Serbian in a completed match at the All England Club since 2016 and ended his 34-match winning streak at the event.

Alcaraz has already won 12 titles overall – including four at ATP Masters 1000 tournaments. The Spaniard has won six titles and finished as a runner-up at two other events during a superb 2023 campaign so far, having missed the Australian Open in January through injury.

In an interview with Movistar+, Nadal urged for caution with placing expectations on the young star and revealed the message he would send to his countryman.

“We should not rush into judgments about him. He has a brutal projection. He has the power, the ambition. But later in the careers of each athlete, many things can happen,” said the Mallorcan.

“It is difficult to advise him. I am very bad at advising because I have learned more from examples than from words. But if I had to tell him something, I would only tell him to keep improving or at least have the hope of doing it, which is what keeps you motivated.”

The 14-time French Open winner has faced Alcaraz three times and holds a 2-1 head-to-head lead, with the encounters being played in 2021 and 2022.

Nadal has not competed since suffering a hip injury in his second round loss to Mackenzie McDonald at the Australian Open in January. The 22-time Grand Slam champion underwent surgery on the issue in June, having initially expected to be out for only six to eight weeks.

The Spanish legend discussed the pain he continues to deal with as he attempts to prepare for a potential comeback in 2024.

“[The pain is not gone] but now it is controllable. There are times when the foot does not let me live in peace, it is difficult for me to even go down the stairs, and that happens sometimes. If it hurts it is difficult to be happy, my character changes when it hurts more than necessary,” admitted the 37-year-old.

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