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Birthday Bash: Alcaraz to Turn 18 on Same Day of Matchup with Rafa Nadal in Madrid

Spanish player Carlos Alcaraz in action during his match against Adrian Mannarino of France at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 03 May 2021. EPA-EFE/JuanJo Martin

By Ricky Dimon

Carlos Alcaraz’s 6-4, 6-0 rout of Adrian Mannarino in the Mutua Madrid Open first round on Monday was not just his first-ever victory at a Masters 1000 event. It was something even bigger.

Prize money and ranking points–which are significant–are not Alcaraz’s biggest rewards for the win. No, the grand prize is a meeting with none other than fellow Spaniard and 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal.

And it will come on Alcaraz’s 18th birthday, no less.

“For me, [to] play against Rafa is a dream come true,” the world No. 120 commented. “Since I was a kid, I wished to play a match against Rafa, and now I will be able to here [on] the Centre Court of La Caja Magica in Madrid…. They always say the 18th birthday is special, but it will be even more special to turn 18 playing against one of the best tennis players of all time; the best for me. Rafa is one of my childhood idols. It’s going to be very special.”

Alcaraz had no trouble whatsoever making the dream become reality. He broke Mannarino in the first game of the match and that was all he would need to take the opening set. From there the teenager did not even concede a single game in set two, ousting the 34th-ranked Frenchman after only one hour and 11 minutes.

“I am really, really happy,” Alcaraz assured. “This is a special win for me here in Spain, here at La Caja Magica. [To] win a Masters 1000 match here is amazing.”

Spanish player Rafael Nadal during a training session at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament, in Madrid, Spain, 01 May 2021. EPA-EFE/RODRIGO JIMENEZ

Now on Wednesday it’s a battle between two Spaniards, one–at least for one more day–who is exactly double the other in age.

“Carlos is an amazing player,” Nadal praised. “He already has an amazing level of tennis. Probably he will be one of the best players in the world soon. It will be a big challenge for me–and hopefully for him, too.”

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.