Rafael Nadal to face promising Spanish teenager at Madrid Open

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MADRID — It wasn’t too long ago that Rafael Nadal was handing Carlos Alcaraz a PlayStation as the boy’s prize at a local tennis tournament in Spain.

Now the Spanish great is about to play against the promising youngster in the second round of the Madrid Open.

The 17-year-old Alcaraz defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0 to set up the “dream” matchup against the 20-time grand slam champion.

Alcaraz will face his idol on the Magic Box center court on his birthday.

“It will be a dream come through to play against Rafa here,” Alcaraz said. “I’ve wanted to play against him since I was a kid. There will be no better way than while celebrating my 18th birthday.”

Alcaraz, who is competing in Madrid on a wild card, turned pro in 2018 and has been considered by many as Spain’s successor to 34-year-old Nadal. They practiced together at the Australian Open, where Alcaraz reached the second round.

He won the under-12 title in Madrid in 2015, and two years later reached the final in the under-16 event. A few years ago, Alcaraz and other kids received PlayStations from Nadal after competing in a tournament.

“I’ll try to be as relaxed as possible,” the 120th-ranked Alcaraz said. “I’ll try to play my game and to keep learning and keep having fun.”

In other early round matches, Daniel Evans defeated Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-2, and Denis Shapovalov got past Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3.

Fabio Fognini, who was disqualified from the Barcelona Open because of foul language, defeated Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberner 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3 to set up an all-Italian clash against Matteo Berrettini in the second round.

John Isner defeated Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 7-6 (6), while fellow American Reilly Opelka lost to Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-4. Other U.S. players who won were Marcos Giron and Tommy Paul.

In the women’s draw, top-ranked Ashleigh Barty defeated French Open champion Iga Swiatek 7-5, 6-4 in a round-of-16 match, while Spaniard Paula Badosa got past Anastasija Sevastova 6-7 (0), 7-6 (3), 6-0.

Petra Kvitova defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, while eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic advanced after Ons Jabeur retired.

Alcaraz loses to Goffin in 1st match as No. 1

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ASTANA, Kazakhstan — Carlos Alcaraz’s first match as the No. 1-ranked player ended with a straight-set loss to David Goffin at the Astana Open.

The 19-year-old Spaniard lost 7-5, 6-3 in his first tour match since winning the U.S. Open and capturing the No. 1 ranking.

“David was playing really, really well. To come back to competition is never easy,” Alcaraz said. “It’s really tough for me, for my confidence.”

Alcaraz came from 5-2 down to level the first set at 5-5, only to be broken again by his Belgian opponent.

“When you play against the World No. 1 on a big stage, big crowd, the fire inside gives you so much power to play your best tennis because you don’t have any choice,” Goffin said. “You have to fight and give your best and that was the case today.”

Second-seeded Daniil Medvedev and No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas both avoided similar upsets. Medvedev beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 6-3, 6-1 and Tsitsipas ousted Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3. 6-4.

Kasatkina knocks out Raducanu at Agel Open

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OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Fifth-seeded Daria Kasatkina defeated 2021 U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu 7-5, 6-4 to advance to the second round of the Agel Open.

Kasatkina was playing her first match since losing in the first round of the U.S. Open and will next face Ekaterina Alexandrova.

Sixth-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland rallied to eliminate former top-five player Eugenie Bouchard of Canada 6-7 (7), 6-1, while Aliaksandra Sasnovich upset eighth-seeded Jelena Ostapenko 6-2, 6-2.

American qualifiers Alycia Parks and Catherine McNally both advanced. Parks upset Czech Karolina Pliskova 6-0, 7-6 (3) and McNally eased past Anna Blinkova 6-1, 6-2 at the indoor hardcourt event in the Czech eastern city of Ostrava.