Top-seeded Rafael Nadal converted 80.8 percent of his first-serve points on Wednesday en route to a swift 6-1, 6-2 victory over fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the second round of the Mutua Madrid Open.
Nadal, a five-time champion in Madrid, needed just 67 minutes to win the match and spoil Alcaraz’s 18th birthday.
But perhaps the scouting report from the 34-year-old Nadal ranked as a pretty good gift in the eyes of Alcaraz, who made the tournament field as a wild card.
“He has a lot of potential. He’s young and a good guy,” Nadal said of Alcaraz after the victory. “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.”
Nadal will next face Australian qualifier Alexei Popyrin, who defeated 14th-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner 7-6 (5), 6-2.
Popyrin held an 8-0 edge in aces while finishing off Sinner in one hour and 34 minutes.
The 21-year-old Popyrin knows he is in for a major test against Nadal as he faces the legendary clay player for the first time.
“I’m going to give it my all, put in a fight,” Popyrin said. “I’m going to go out there believing that I can actually play because I believe I do have the level to play with him, even if it is his favorite surface, even if he is playing at home.
“All the cards are in his favor right now, but I don’t mind being the underdog. I have been the underdog for most of my career, so I’m glad to be able to be one here.”
Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece was in top form as he rolled to a 6-1, 6-2 win over Benoit Paire of France. The match took just 54 minutes.
Tsitsipas next faces Norway’s Casper Ruud, who was a 6-1, 6-2 winner over Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka.
Second-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev and fifth-seeded German Alexander Zverev also advanced. Medvedev beat Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, and Zverev rolled to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Japan’s Kei Nishikori.
Meanwhile, Russian Aslan Karatsev upset Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 2-6, 6-4, 6-1, and American John Isner outlasted Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6).
In other matches, 16th-seeded Cristian Garin of Chile beat Germany’s Dominik Koepfer 6-3, 6-4, Argentina qualifier Federico Delbonis knocked off Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6 (5), 6-3 and Brit Daniel Evans rallied for a 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3 victory over Australian John Millman.
–Field Level Media