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Rafael Nadal hugged tennis star Carlos Alzaraz when he was younger (photo left) and during practice when they are older (photo right).

Rafael Nadal pictured with rising tennis star Carlos Alzaraz when he was younger (photo left) and at the Australian Open (photo right) in 2021. (Images: @carlitosalcarazz)

The tennis world awaits in anticipation as Spanish prodigy Carlos Alcaraz will compete against one of his idols Rafael Nadal at the Madrid Open.

Not long ago, Rafael Nadal Alcaraz presented a PlayStation as a boy’s prize at a local tennis tournament in Spain.

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But the 17-year-old rising star became the youngest-ever winner at the Madrid Open after beating Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0 in the first round.

He will now face his idol on center court on his 18th birthday.

“For me, (playing) against Rafa is a dream come true,” said Alcaraz.

“Since I was a kid I wanted to play a match against Rafa and now I will be able … It’s a really special match against Rafa.”

Alcaraz trains with Nadal in Australia

Earlier this year, Nadal invited the young Spaniard to train with him ahead of the Australian Open after making round 2.

Alcaraz said he’ll take every opportunity to watch the 20-time Grand Slam champion when he’s not playing.

I watch Rafa Nadal a lot, said Alcaraz in Madrid.

Yes, I always want to play against Rafa, learn from him. I don’t know how to describe this feeling now. It’s a dream come true. Like you said, I know his game a little bit. I will try to do my best and show you what happens.

To put the age difference in perspective, Nadal had already played seven ATP games (and won four) by the time Alcaraz was born.

Alcaraz won the under-12 title in Madrid in 2015 and reached the final in the under-16 event two years later.

A few years ago, Alcaraz and other children received Nadal’s PlayStations after participating in a tournament.

“I’ll try to be as relaxed as possible,” said Alcaraz.

“I’ll try to play my game and keep learning and having fun.”

World champion No. 2 Nadal, who has been hello in the opening round, is chasing his sixth title in the Spanish capital after winning his 87th title on tour in Barcelona last month.

with AAP

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