Carlos Alcaraz got a special present for this 18th birthday, his first ever match against childhood idol Rafael Nadal.
While it was always going to be an uphill battle for the young Spaniard, ranked 120th in the world, he took satisfaction from the opportunity and said he would use it to learn and develop.
And 20-time Grand Slam champion Nadal certainly taught him a lesson, with an emphatic 6-1, 6-2 win, but at least Alcaraz can take away one plus from the match, he managed to break Nadal’s serve in the second set.
Nadal is now on course for his sixth Madrid Masters title and will face Alexei Popyrin in the next round.
Meanwhile Alcaraz was reflective after the match and said he was pleased to spend his birthday on court.
“Before the match we didn’t talk but after he (Nadal) wished me a good birthday and told me to continue to work hard.”
“This match showed me how to manage the tough moments and know how to play against these kind of players.
“If I could play more matches like this I would grow up faster as player.”
After the match a large birthday cake was brought on to court by tournament director Feliciano Lopez for the youngster in celebration of his coming of age.
“I’m very happy to spend my birthday learning from the best,” Alcaraz concluded.
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