Nadal Full Of Admiration For ‘Unstoppable’ Alcaraz Ahead Of SF Clash
Spanish legend Rafael Nadal will face #NextGenATP countryman Carlos Alcaraz in a popcorn semi-final clash at the BNP Paribas Open after battling through a tricky assignment against Nick Kyrgios on Thursday.
Nadal’s hard-fought three-set win over the Australian extended his career-best start to a season to 19-0. The victory means the World No. 4 will next meet 18-year-old prodigy Alcaraz - who he holds enormous respect for - in his toughest test yet in Indian Wells.
“He has a great team next to him,” Nadal said on Alcaraz in his post-match press conference. “I think he will be unstoppable in terms of his career. He has all the ingredients. He has the passion. He’s humble enough to work hard. He’s a good guy. He reminds me a lot of myself when I was 17 or 18-years-old. I think he has the passion. He has the talent and the physical components.”
Saturday’s match between the Spaniards will be the second ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair, with Nadal triumphing 6-1, 6-2 in Madrid last spring. However, since then, Alcaraz has captured tour-level titles in Umag and Rio de Janeiro, lifted the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals trophy and cracked the Top 20 in the ATP Rankings.
While Nadal admits Alcaraz is likely to cause him problems on court in the coming months, he is delighted to see a young Spanish star emerging on Tour.
“I am super happy. He is going to be a great rival for now and for the next couple of months, without a doubt,” Nadal said. “But thinking and being selfish, it's great. To have such a star from my country [is amazing], because for the tennis lovers, we're going to enjoy [watching] an amazing player fight for the most important titles for many years.
“It is fantastic for the tennis lovers and he's a countryman and he's a great guy. I like him. I wish him all the very best. Probably not on Saturday when he plays against me, but in general.”
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This season Nadal has clinched a remarkable three tour-level titles, including a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open. The 35-year-old is aiming to win his fourth Indian Wells trophy this week (2007, 09, 13) and was pleased with his performance against Kyrgios.
“It was a good tennis match,” Nadal said. “Another fighting match that I needed to play well to go through. I enjoy these kinds of matches. I enjoy the challenges. And today, I was able to keep going and that makes me happy and makes me proud.”