Two Spanish players at opposite ends of the their tennis careers will meet for the first time in Madrid today when veteran Rafael Nadal takes on teenager Carlos Alcaraz.
Playing in front of a home crowd who already adore Nadal and are certain to eventually adore Alcaraz, if they don't already, the much anticipated match has piqued the interest of tennis fans and analysts alike.
Nadal, a 20-time Grand Champion, world number two, with a successful career spanning a decade and half against Alcaraz, world number 120, yet to win an ATP title and incidentally turning 18 on the day of the match.
Nadal, who is hoping to bag his sixth Madrid Masters title this year, is a childhood idol of Alcaraz, who is making his Masters debut, and the youngster admitted the draw was a 'dream come true' for him.
Although many have speculated that Alcaraz is the newer, younger version of the Spanish legend, Nadal's coach Carlos Moya thinks experience will be the biggest factor in the match.
“It’s going to be a special match,” Moya admitted.
“It is an encounter between the present, because Rafa is still the present and has been for many years, and the immediate future.
"I think that Alcaraz is going to be a great player. He’s already very good, although he’s still lacking that experience and he’s in the process of improving. It’s a natural generational succession."
Moya hopes that Alcaraz will carry the baton for Spanish tennis eventually but he believes Nadal is not willing to hand it over just yet.
“Rafa will not last forever, that’s life, unfortunately,” Moya said. “In a few years, I think Carlos will be one of the players in the fight for Grand Slams. Maybe they will meet in the final of a big tournament" said Moya.
"Rafa has been at an extremely high level for many years and Carlos in one or two years may be perfectly ready to fight for those tournaments.
"But we’re in 2021, and at the moment, Rafa still has that experience and the game that we believe is good enough to fight for any tournament.”
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