Rafael Nadal will begin his 2021 Mutua Madrid Open campaign against compatriot Carloz Alcaraz. The two Spaniards will face each other in the second round of the tournament on Wednesday, which also happens to be Alcaraz's 18th birthday.
Alcaraz marked his Masters 1000 debut with an emphatic 6-4, 6-0 win over Frenchman Adrian Mannarino on Monday. Nadal, on the other hand, received a bye in the opening round.
Alcaraz had a fairly successful start to the clay swing, reaching the semifinals of the Andalucia Open. The 17-year-old then fell in the opening round at the Barcelona Open and Estoril Open, but he seems to have rediscovered his best tennis in Madrid.
Alcaraz outplayed Mannarino from start to finish, with his forehand in particular proving too hot to handle for the Frenchman. The Spaniard hammered a whopping 19 winners off that wing.
Mannarino, who could muster just four winners of his own all match (compared to his opponent's 24), had visible difficulty gauging the spin and bounce on Alcaraz's shots.
Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, needs no introduction when it comes to claycourt tennis. The 34-year-old's love affair with clay remains as strong as ever, despite the fact that he hasn't been in the best form lately.