Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz kicked off their rivalry in Madrid 2021. They met at Caja Magica on Carlos’ 18th birthday, and Rafa scored a dominant 6-1, 6-2 victory against an injured opponent. Alcaraz could not play at his best due to an injury in the early stages.
Nadal was not ready for any birthday gifts on the court, dominating on serve and return to leave a teenager behind and sail into the third round. After the match, the youngster admitted he did not talk with his idol too much before the duel.
Still, Rafa wished him all the best at the net when they finished. Rafa lost serve once and turned over 60% of the return points into five breaks. Carlos earned a break chance in the encounter’s opening game and wasted it before Rafa closed it with a service winner.
Nadal forced the rival’s error in the second game to grab the first break before Alcaraz experienced that injury a few minutes later. The youngster took a medical timeout and lost momentum. Rafa won the third game with a volley winner and seized another break for a 4-0 advantage.
The more experienced Spaniard held at love with a service winner at 5-1 to wrap up the opener in 36 minutes.
Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz met for the first time in Madrid 2021.
A five-time Madrid Open champion scored two breaks at the beginning of the second set before Alcaraz pulled one break back to reduce the deficit and show his fighting spirit.
Leaving that loose service game behind, Rafa placed a perfect return winner for a break at love in game five and crossed the finish line with a smash winner at 5-2 on his third match point. “It was amazing to spend my birthday playing against Rafael Nadal in front of the home crowd here in Madrid.
It would have been better if I could win, but I enjoyed it anyway. I have learned much from him; this match will help me grow as a player. I have to learn how to manage big points and deal with rivals from the top. If I can play more matches like this against Rafa, I should grow up faster and develop my skills.
Rafa and I did not say anything before the match. He wished me a happy birthday and encouraged me to continue working hard when we finished,” Carlos Alcaraz said.