Alcaraz Was 'So Scared' Of Facing Idol Nadal For First Time At 2021 Madrid Open

Alcaraz Was 'So Scared' Of Facing Idol Nadal For First Time At 2021 Madrid Open

by Nurein Ahmed

Carlos Alcaraz recently shared his experience of facing his childhood idol, Rafael Nadal, for the first time at the 2021 Madrid Open.

The match happened during Alcaraz's 17th birthday and was in the second round of the tournament. The encounter was billed as the match between the master and the apprentice, and the experienced Nadal prevailed in routine fashion, winning 6-1, 6-2.

Alcaraz has since gone on to achieve big things on the ATP Tour, such as winning his first Grand Slam at the 2022 US Open and becoming the youngest World No. 1 in ATP history at the age of 19.

The pair have also shared the court on three occasions, with two of those meetings coming on the ATP tour. Nadal won for a second time in a classic semifinal at the 2022 Indian Wells Open, but it was Alcaraz who won their Madrid rematch in 2022 in the quarterfinal.

The World No. 3 ended up winning the tournament that year and defended his title in 2023. In an interview with Eurosport, the 20-year-old recently reflected on his first meeting with Nadal in Madrid three seasons ago and referred to the experience of facing the five-time champion of the tournament as "scary".

"Honestly, it's difficult to face him. The first time in 2021 I was so scared, I'm not gonna lie. I couldn't play. His presence, the atmosphere that you feel, is unbelievable. It's difficult. The next time, I learned a lot about how to deal with such a situation."

Alcaraz told Eurosport before his 2024 campaign

"We are tennis players, and we have to deal with that situation if you want to be the best. The next time that I faced him, I didn't feel scared. I wanted to beat him. I wanted to go for it. That's how all you have to think. But I'm not gonna lie, it's difficult."

Alcaraz is back in Madrid looking to do something unprecedented—to win a Madrid three-peat, which even Nadal has not achieved in his long and distinguished career.

However, doubts linger on the severity of the forearm injury that has already derailed his plans during the clay swing, forcing him to withdraw from Monte Carlo and Barcelona.


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