Thursday, May 04, 2023

'Nadal cannot be written off': Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz (left) with Rafael Nadal before their Madrid Open quarter-final clash on May 6, 2022. — AFP
Carlos Alcaraz (left) with Rafael Nadal before their Madrid Open quarter-final clash on May 6, 2022. — AFP

Spanish tennis sensation Carlos Alcaraz — who is currently world number two in the sport — recently expressed hopes of facing his compatriot Rafael Nadal at Roland Garros

Rafael Nadal — who has won 22 Grand Slam men's singles titles — has had his fair share of struggles with injuries throughout his career and was compelled to skip the ongoing Madrid Open due to his recent hip injury. 

The tennis great was injured in Australia earlier this year and has since then been forced to sit out several major tournaments.

The 36-year-old Spaniard has already missed major tournaments at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

Alcaraz — who turns 20 tomorrow — is the youngest man to top the singles rankings at 19 years, 4 months and 6 days old. He is also the first teenager in the Open Era to top the men's rankings.

Despite emerging as a favourite for Roland Garros — due to his victories on clay at Barcelona and Buenos Aires — Alcaraz said that Nadal could not be written off and wished the veteran player a speedy recovery.

Speaking to reporters after he defeated the German Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-2 on Tuesday to reach the Madrid quarter-finals, Alcaraz said: "Hopefully he will be in Rome and then at Roland Garros, where he will be a rival to beat."

"Although he hasn't played since Australia, a man who has won a tournament 14 times will always be difficult to beat in that tournament, even if he comes without match rhythm. It'll also be difficult for him, tennis requires that competitive rhythm, but Rafa is Rafa, even if he arrives without many matches, he'll surely show a spectacular level," said Alcaraz.

The young Spaniard welcomed the reports of Nadal's return as he hopes to continue learning from the 22-time Grand Slam winner.

"I say this as a player and as a tennis lover," said Alcaraz. "It's been a pity all these months where we haven't been able to see him in tournaments."

It must be noted that Alcaraz and Nadal have faced each other three times, where the latter leads with two wins against the former. 

The last time the two Spaniards had a face-off, Alcaraz defeated Nadal 6-2, 1-6 and 6-3.