KEY POINTS

  • Rafa Nadal has also reached the quarter-finals of Madrid Open
  • Nadal recently returned after an injury lay-off
  • He is now a 21-time Grand Slam winner

Carlos Alcaraz, a promising tennis star from Spain, is fancying a victory against his idol Rafael Nadal.

On his 19th birthday Thursday, Alcaraz defeated Cameron Norrie of Great Britain at the Madrid Open. Playing in front of his home fans, the teenager pulled off a hard-fought 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 win over Norrie at Manolo Santana Stadium to set up a meeting with the 21-time Grand Slam winner.

A victory in the all-Spanish quarter-final will see Alcaraz climb to No. 6 in the ATP rankings, provided Andrey Rublev loses to Stefanos Tsitsipas.

"I lost twice against him [Nadal] and I wanted to play against him the third time. I think it's going to be different from last year [in Madrid] and the last match that we played [in Indian Wells]. I'm excited to play against Rafa here in Madrid in front of the Spanish crowd. It's going to be a great day and a great match," World No. 6 Alcaraz told ATP after his win over Norrie. 

Nadal and Alcaraz have so far faced each other twice, with the veteran tennis player winning on both occasions. They are also locking horns at Madrid Open for a second straight season. Last year, Nadal thoroughly dominated his young compatriot, beating him 6-1, 6-2. 

When Alcaraz was asked how he can earn his maiden victory over Nadal, the young player replied, "Honestly, I don't know."

"I always say that he has 1,000 lives. He dies and he survives, in every tough match for him," he said about Nadal, who earlier saved four match points to qualify for the last-eight in the Madrid Open. 

"I think if I play a pretty good game, I'll have chances to win," added Alcaraz, who has won four ATP titles in the singles category. Out of the four titles, three have come this year: Rio Open, Miami Open and Barcelona Open.

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz on the way to a fourth-round victory over France's Gael Monfils in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Spain's Carlos Alcaraz on the way to a fourth-round victory over France's Gael Monfils in the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Photo: AFP / Frederic J. BROWN

Alcaraz was ranked No. 120 when he first met Nadal on the court a year ago. The former is set to enter the big match with an excellent 25-3 tour-level record in the ongoing season.

Before injury took down Nadal at Indian Wells, where he lost the final to Taylor Fritz, the former World No. 1 registered his best start to an ATP season by winning 20 games on the trot. The fine run saw him clinch three titles, including the 2022 Australian Open, which put him ahead of Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic in the list of most Grand Slam titles. Federer and Djokovic are currently in a tie with 20 major titles each.