Rafael Nadal will open his campaign at the Mutua Madrid Open by challenging his young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz on Wednesday. The former world number 1, fresh from yet another triumph in Barcelona, benefited from a bye in the first round, while the pupil of Juan Carlos Ferrero left just four games to poor Adrian Mannarino.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion won five times at the Caja Magica, even if his last title dates back to the 2017 edition. The 34-year-old from Manacor instead had to settle for the final on three occasions (2009, 2011 and 2015), testifying to a not always ideal feeling with the home Masters 1000.
Rafa’s hunt for the sixth seal seems quite bumpy: in case of success against Alcaraz, it is likely that Nadal will have to contend with Jannik Sinner in the second round. Respecting the seeded order, Alexander Zverev would be his opponent for a place in the semi-finals.
Via her official Twitter account, former WTA number 1 Tracy Austin described the Majorcan as an extraordinary example for athletes of any discipline.
Tracy Austin on Rafael Nadal
“I play with passion, with clear goals and with love for the game with the right intensity and at the same time have enough passion to go on court every day and try to be better player,” Rafael Nadal said.
“That’s the whole thing.” Tracy Austin then suggested that ‘every tennis club and locker room’ should put Nadal’s quote on their walls to help guide and motivate their players. “Every tennis club & locker room should have this up on the wall!”
Austin said about Nadal. “Refreshing and so inspirational.👏 Because this is “the whole thing”. In Carlos Alcaraz’s post-match press conference, the interviewer asked him how he was feeling about playing against Rafael Nadal.
Unlike most players, the young Spaniard remained confident and answered the question. “I always wished to play against Rafa, learn from him. I don’t know how to describe this feeling now; it is a dream come true,” Carlos said.
Furthermore, he opened up on his plan against the top seed in the Madrid Open 2021. According to him, he will be carrying something more than a tennis racquet into the match, namely knowledge of Rafa’s game. “I know a little of his game, and I will try to play my best, and let’s see what happens,” the Spanish teenager concluded.
Interestingly, Carlos’ coach Juan Carlos Ferrero has been a former opponent of the 20-time Grand Slam champion. Thus, his experience with Rafa Nadal will also play a part in the Round-of-32 match.