Birthday is dream day for Carlos Alcaraz.
Alcaraz will celebrate his 18th birthday on Wednesday with a coming-of-age Madrid meeting with Rafael Nadal.
The 17-year-old Spanish phenom powered past Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0 in his Mutua Madrid Open debut to set up a monumental meeting vs. the king of clay.
“It’s the best present,” Alcaraz said. “It’s a dream come true to play against Rafa here in Madrid in front of the Spanish crowd. I will never forget this moment. I will learn from him.”
Former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero is Alcaraz’s coach and Pablo Carreno Busta has served as a mentor as the young Nadal had former world No. 1 Carlos Moya, now his coach, as a mentor.
While Wednesday’s all Spanish showdown has been billed as a clash of Spain’s glorious present and potential championship future, Alcaraz has a more personal view: dream day.
“I watch Rafa Nadal a lot,” Alcaraz said. “Yeah, I always wish to play against Rafa, learn from him. I don’t know how to describe this feeling now. Is a dream come true. As you said, I know a little his game. Yeah, I will try to play my best and let’s see what happen.”
Photo credit: Ángel Martínez/Mutua Madrid Open