Sports Nadal to face promising Spanish teenager at Madrid Open
Nadal enters Madrid Open with improvement on his mind
MADRID — Rafael Nadal hopes to use the Madrid Open to keep improving ahead of the French Open after a slow start to the season. Nadal won the Barcelona Open last week for his first title of the year. The second-ranked Spaniard has been slowly gaining his best form following a long layoff prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. “I haven’t played a lot, this will be only my fourth tournament of the year,” Nadal said. “Now it’s time to push, to make that extra effort entering the next three months.” Nadal is also expected to play in Rome before returning to Roland Garros to try to win a record-extending 14th French Open title.
MADRID — It wasn't too long ago that Rafael Nadal was handing Carlos Alcaraz a PlayStation as the boy's prize at a local tennis tournament in Spain.
Now the Spanish great is about to play against the promising youngster in the second round of the Madrid Open.
The 17-year-old Alcaraz defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0 on Monday to set up the “dream” matchup against the 20-time grand slam champion.
Alcaraz will face his idol on the Magic Box centre court on Wednesday, his birthday.
“It will be a dream come through to play against Rafa here,” Alcaraz said. “I’ve wanted to play against him since I was a kid. There will be no better way than while celebrating my 18th birthday.”
Madrid Open: Nadal cruises past Spanish teenage sensation
MADRID — In a much-anticipated battle of generations, Rafael Nadal showed he is still clearly the man to beat in Spanish tennis, cruising to a 6-1, 6-2 win over teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz in the second round of the Madrid Open on Wednesday. Nadal, seeking his sixth title in Madrid and looking to regain top form ahead of the French Open, was never threatened by Alcaraz, who turned 18 on Wednesday. The 120th-ranked Alcaraz was coming off his first match win at a Masters 1000 event and had called the meeting with his idol a “dream come true.” He has been touted by many as the successor to the 34-year-old Nadal.
Alcaraz, who is competing in Madrid on a wild card, turned pro in 2018 and has been considered by many as Spain's successor to 34-year-old Nadal. They practiced together at the Australian Open, where Alcaraz reached the second round.
He won the under-12 title in Madrid in 2015, and two years later reached the final in the under-16 event. A few years ago, Alcaraz and other kids received PlayStations from Nadal after competing in a tournament.
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“I’ll try to be as relaxed as possible,” the 120th-ranked Alcaraz said. “I’ll try to play my game and to keep learning and keep having fun.”
In other early round matches, Daniel Evans defeated Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-2, and Danis Shapovalov got past Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3.
Nadal beats Carreno, to meet Tsitsipas in Barcelona final
BARCELONA, Spain — Rafael Nadal will face a red-hot Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Barcelona Open final after the 11-time champion eased past fellow Spaniard Pablo Carreno 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday. Nadal roared out to a 5-1 lead before Carreno pulled back a break. Carreno then had three break chances on Nadal’s next service game, but the latter saved them all and closed out the set. Any thoughts of a Carreno comeback were snuffed out when Nadal broke his first service game of the second set in intimidating fashion.
Fabio Fognini, who was disqualified from the Barcelona Open because of foul language, defeated Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberner 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3 to set up an all-Italian clash against Matteo Berrettini in the second round.
John Isner defeated Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 7-6 (6), while fellow American Reilly Opelka lost to Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-4. Other U.S. players who won were Marcos Giron and Tommy Paul.
In the women's draw, top-ranked Ashleigh Barty defeated French Open champion Iga Swiatek 7-5, 6-4 in a round-of-16 match, while Spaniard Paula Badosa got past Anastasija Sevastova 6-7 (0), 7-6 (3), 6-0.
Petra Kvitova defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, while eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic advanced after Ons Jabeur retired.
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Tales Azzoni, The Associated Press
Nadal advances, Fognini defaulted at Barcelona Open .
BARCELONA, Spain — Rafael Nadal needed three sets to beat his 111th-ranked opponent in his first match at the Barcelona Open on Wednesday, while Fabio Fognini was disqualified for alleged verbal abuse. Fognini was defaulted while trailinig 6-0, 4-4 against qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain, after a line judge told the chair umpire that the ninth-seeded Italian had used foul language. Fognini denied wrongdoing and was upset as he left the court, breaking his racket after hitting it at the net post on his way out. Nadal had to overcome a slow start to defeat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 at the clay-court tournament.