Rafael Nadal has outlasted and seen off a few players considered to be their heir to his game and Spanish tennis but many expect Carlos Alcaraz to be the one where there is a passing of the torch. The 18 year-old is already lighting up the tour and will be a top 15 player at the very least following this tournament.
Alcaraz is an impressive 12-1 on the year with his sole loss coming in a fifth set tiebreak to Matteo Berrettini at the Australian Open. The rising star has had some impressive wins this fortnight including a dominant performance against Roberto Bautista Agut as well as his quarter final win against Cameron Norrie. He showed both attacking flair but also fight, coming from a break down in both sets of the 6-4 6-3 win.
Nadal weathered the storm against Nick Kyrgios, eventually coming through in three sets 7-6 5-7 6-4. After failing to break to begin the decider, a a frustrated Kyrgios was thrown off his game and eventually seen off thanks to a sole break at 3-3. “I think I played a good third set. Returning better. I was solid with the serve; I just suffered in one game with my serve. Nick is one of these kind of players that you’re going to have problems when he’s motivated.” he said.
Alcaraz is clearly a much improved player even from a year ago when he lost to Nadal 6-1 6-2 in Madrid. He will be full of confidence and should fancy his chances to remain competitive but it will be all about who delivers on the important points. A strong serving performance will also be vital otherwise Nadal should see this one out fairly easily. Both in terms of skill and mentality, this will be a good yardstick for where Alcaraz’s current level truly is.
Prediction – Rafael Nadal in three sets