Carlos Alcaraz Looks Ahead To 'Dream' Showdown With Nadal After Historic Win In Madrid - UBITENNIS
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Carlos Alcaraz Looks Ahead To ‘Dream’ Showdown With Nadal After Historic Win In Madrid

From watching from the sidelines as a child to playing the world No.2 on the premier stadium. Carlos Alcaraz’s latest win at the Madrid Open has broken a record and set up a mouthwatering showdown.

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MUTUA MADRID OPEN DE TENIS 2021

When Rafael Nadal made his debut at the Madrid Open back in 2003 Carlos Alcaraz was only just born but now the two generations of Spanish players will clash in the tournament later this week.

 

17-year-old Alcaraz, who had risen 190 places in the ATP rankings since August, illustrated glimmers of his potential with a clinical win in the first round of the tournament on Monday. Taking on France’s Adrian Mannarino he raced to a 6-4, 6-0, win in just over 70 minutes. Winning 81% of his first service points and not facing a single break point throughout the encounter.

“For me this is amazing to play in front of a crowd, especially in Spain,” Alcaraz said following the match. “I have been coming to this tournament since I was young. I always wished to play here in Madrid. I’m really happy.”

The teenager has become the youngest player in history to have won a match in the tournament. Alcaraz is tipped by many as one of the brightest prospects in men’s tennis. Last season he won a trio of Challenger titles to become the second-youngest player in history to do so after Richard Gasquet. It was also during 2020 where he became the youngest player to win an ATP 500 match since the series began in 2009. This year he has already played in his first Grand Slam main draw at the Australian Open and reached the semi-finals of the Andalucia Open.

Next up for the world No.120 in Madrid is a clash with his idol Nadal who is seeking to win the tournament for a sixth time in his career. The two had already praised each other in the past with the world No.2 once saying that Alcaraz ‘will have a great future because he’s a good guy, humble and a hard worker.’

I’ve watched Rafa Nadal a lot. I always wished to play against Rafa and learn from him. I don’t know how to describe my feelings now,” Alcaraz reflected. “It is a dream come true. I will try to play my best and let’s see what happens.”

The upcoming showdown is also extra special for Alcaraz as it will take place on May 5th which is his 18th birthday. Something he describes as a ‘gift he will never forget.’

“It is special to turn 18 playing against one of the best in the history of tennis,” he told Spanish reporters. “It is a gift that I will never forget. There are many comparisons that will be made, the new generation with the legend … I will try to play what I’ve been playing and enjoy. I will be playing nervous, but at the same time as calm as possible.”

Alcaraz is coached on the Tour by former French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero. He names Pablo Carreno Busta as his ‘best friend’ on the Tour who Marin Cilic recently said he plays like. Although the youngster once described his style of play as ‘aggressively coming to the net and playing a lot of drop shots.’

Regardless of the outcome, the Spaniard hopes this week will nudge him closer to his year-end goal. Following his win over Mannarino, he is projected to rise to around 114th in the world.

“I try to improve in each tournament. Every match helps me to grow up as a player. I try to keep the best of each match and try to improve the bad things I did. I feel that I’m growing up in every tournament and I hope to end the season in the best 50.” Alcaraz concluded.

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French Open Chief: Roger Federer Would have Won Multiple French Open Titles If It Wasn’t For Nadal

Guy Forget also predicts how far the 39-year-old could go in the draw this year.

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The decision by Roger Federer to play at the French Open is the most logical step ahead of Wimbledon, according to tournament director Guy Forget.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match on the surface since June 2019. Last year he missed most the season due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year he has only played in one tournament which was at the Qatar Open where he reached the semi-finals.

Federer will return to the court next week at the Geneva Open in his native Switzerland. It is the only event he will play before heading to Roland Garros. An event he had only played in once out of the past five editions. Forget, who is a former top 10 player himself, believes the match play is exactly what Federer needs.

“That Roger comes to play Roland Garros seems logical to me. This will allow him to play, and especially to test himself. Clay is a surface that requires you to be precise in your movements. The better Federer is at Roland Garros, the better he will be at Wimbledon,” he told reporters earlier this week.

The Swiss Maestro has only won the French Open once in his career which was back in 2009. Although he has reached the final on four other occasions. It was at the 1999 French Open where he made his main draw debut in a major at the age of 17. Overall, 11 out of Federer’s 103 ATP titles have been won on the clay.

However, Forget believes Federer would have won many more French Open titles if it wasn’t for the formidable Rafael Nadal. A player who has won more ATP trophies on the dirt than any other player in history, including 13 at the French Open alone.

“If Rafael Nadal hadn’t existed Federer would have had at least 5 or 6 titles at Roland, I’m sure of that.” Forget commented.
“Regarding this edition, I think it can happen that he could go into the second week.” He added.

Federer has lost to Nadal in all six of their meetings at the French Open – four times in the final and twice in the semi-finals. He trails their overall head-to-head 16-24.

The French Open will get underway on May 30th.

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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