Tennis

Rafael Nadal makes Carlos Alcaraz demand after Madrid loss – ‘Stop comparing him to me’

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Rafael Nadal has urged people to stop comparing Carlos Alcaraz to his teenage self days after losing to the world No 6 in Madrid. Alcaraz recently won the Barcelona Open and cracked the top 10 on the exact same dates a then-18-year-old-Nadal achieved the same feats 17 years prior, and backed it up by winning his second Masters 1000 title in Madrid.

Alcaraz has drawn many similarities to Nadal in his young career, with even the man himself admitting the five-time title winner admitted him of his young self earlier in the season during Indian Wells. But the 21-time Major champion has now demanded the comparisons stop so the 19-year-old can “enjoy his personal career”.

“The only thing we can do is enjoy the career of an amazing player like Carlos and it will be better, even if it’s interesting, that you stop comparing him to me,” the world No 4 told reporters after getting an opening victory in Rome. “If he is able to win 25 Grand Slams, it’s going to be amazing for him and our country and I will be happy for him, but let’s let him enjoy his personal career.”

Alcaraz has enjoyed a successful season so far, losing just three matches and picking up four titles including two Masters in Miami and Madrid. Many have compared it to Nadal’s 2005 season, in which he won the Monte Carlo and Rome Masters as well as the Barcelona Open as an 18-year-old, and then turned 19 during his first Grand Slam victory at the French Open.

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Now with 21 Major titles to his name, Nadal said he was happy he got to manage his own career and wanted the same for his young compatriot instead of the constant comparisons. He continued: “ I enjoyed my personal career and I think I am super happy with the way I was able to manage my tennis career and it’s his moment now to manage his personal career the way he wants it.

“We cannot be all the time thinking about how I was and how he is today. He is what he is, and he is fantastic and probably in 2004 I will not say about myself that I was fantastic, but I think I was quite good too.”

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But Nadal will be hoping to stop Alcaraz from replicating his success at the French Open, as the world No 4 will be gunning for a record-extending 14th title in Paris and 22nd Grand Slam overall. He is currently playing just his second tournament after a six-week injury layoff for a fractured rib and got off to a winning start against Isner 6-3 6-1 in the second round.

He will now face Denis Shapovalov in the round-of-16, a rematch of their three-set battle in the exact same round of the Italian Open last year, in which Nadal saved two match points. Recalling the clash, he said: “Last year I was very lucky, he had me in his hands. It was almost a miracle.” Meanwhile, Alcaraz withdrew from the Rome Masters to rest after his triumph in Madrid and will next be in action at the French Open.

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