Rafael Nadal not taking Alexei Popyrin for granted ahead of Madrid clash



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Rafael Nadal not taking Alexei Popyrin for granted ahead of Madrid clash

Spanish tennis superstar Rafael Nadal showed his class after demolishing fellow compatriot Carlos Alcaraz as he spoke extremely positively of the rising Spanish star. Nadal, seeded at No. 1, handed a 6-1 6-2 loss to Alcaraz to progress into the Madrid Masters round-of-16.

Nadal got off to an outstanding start to the match as he earned back-to-back breaks to open a 5-0 lead. Alcaraz got on the board in the sixth game but that was all Nadal served out for the opener in the following game. Nadal lost his serve once in the second set but claimed three breaks to book a comfortable straight-set win.

“He has a lot of potential. He's young and [a] good guy,” Nadal said, per the ATP website. “He already has a great level of tennis today, but I really believe that he’s going to be a fantastic player in the near future.

“I wish him all the very best. [As a] Spanish player and Spanish [tennis] fan, I really believe that we need somebody like him, and it's great to have him here”. Alcaraz, who was celebrating his 18th birthday, wants to learn from the defeat against the record 20-time Grand Slam champion.

"This match made me learn a lot, because I have to know how to manage the tough moments and know how to play against these kinds of players,” Alcaraz said. “[These are] tough matches, tough players, and I have to learn how to play against them.

So I think if I could play more matches like this, I will grow up faster as a player."

Nadal plays next Alexei Popyrin

Rising Australian star Popyrin stunned fellow rising star Jannik Sinner to set up a clash against Nadal.

Popyrin, ranked at No. 76 in the world, beat world No. 18 Sinner 7-6 (5) 6-2. Popyrin lost his serve in the opening game of the match but broke back in the 10th game to eventually force a tie-break, in which he converted his first set point.

Popyrin lost his serve once in the second set but claimed three breaks to finish the match in two sets. "He has a huge serve, great forehand, young... Another tough opponent. But here we are in Masters 1000, so we can't expect another thing,” Nadal said of Popyrin.

“I hope to be ready to play well. That's what I am going to need every single day if I want to have chances to keep playing. Tomorrow is another tough battle. I hope to be ready”.