Spain’s Rafael Nadal spoiled Carlos Alcaraz’s 18th birthday bash as he moved into the third round of Madrid Open with a 6-1, 6-2 victory on Wednesday.

Fans at the Manolo Santana Stadium sang ‘happy birthday’ as Alcaraz stepped onto the court against his childhood idol. But even in his country’s biggest tennis court and under the watchful eye of Spanish sports legends like Iker Casillas and Raul, Alcaraz showed no sign of nerve as he came out swinging.

The generational second-round clash was more than just a showcase of the present and future of Spanish tennis. Both players are coached by Spanish greats and former World No. 1s, with Juan Carlos Ferrero in Alcaraz’s box and Carlos Moya in Nadal’s.

Top seed Nadal advanced to the third round, and awaits the winner of Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin and 14th seed Jannik Sinner.

Alcaraz set the tone early on and pushed the Barcelona Open winner to break point in his first service game. But the World No. 2 held firm and powered his way to a break in the next game, taking a 2-0 lead. Alcaraz did well to stay toe-to-toe with the five-time champion, but he over-extended himself on a backhand lob at 2-0, 15/15 after a long rally and needed a medical time out.

Nadal reeled off the next three games as Alcaraz struggled to regain his footing, and the top seed claimed 12 of the last 15 points to close out the opening set.

Nadal’s heavy top spin pushed Alcaraz behind the baseline, and he dictated the rallies with his forehand to keep the ball out of his opponent’s strike zone.

Too many unforced errors undid the teenager’s efforts, and Nadal’s clinical performance didn’t allow him to find his rhythm in the second set.

With the Spanish fans willing Alcaraz on, the wild card broke Nadal’s serve at 3-1. But Nadal broke straight back, and closed out the victory after an hour and 13 minutes.




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