Carlos Alcaraz Rafael Nadal top ATP rankings

Rafael Nadal: ‘Carlos Alcaraz is better than I was at his age’

Rafael Nadal says Carlos Alcaraz is better than he was at the same age as he tipped his compatriot for ‘an incredible career.’

The two Spaniards will face off against each other in a special exhibition, The Netflix Slam, in Las Vegas in early March, and they have already played each other in Masters events too.

While Nadal is coming to the end of his career, Alcaraz is just starting his, meaning Spanish tennis can move seamlessly from era to the next.

But, as far as Nadal is concerned, Alcaraz is already ahead of where he was at a similar age, remarkable as that will sound to anyone who watched the King of Clay’s emergence on the ATP Tour.

“He’s a great kid,” Nadal told La Sexta. “A very complete tennis player at his age, with very few weaknesses.

“At his age I had a worse serve, a worse volley, a worse backhand, I had many things worse than him at his age.

“He has things very clear, from what I read at the press conference. He has a lot of ambition.

“At his age I would never have thought of something like wanting to face the best in the final. I think he has all the ingredients to have an incredible career.”

How does Carlos Alcaraz compare to Rafael Nadal?

Alcaraz has had to put up with being called ‘the new Rafael Nadal’ from even before he set foot inside an ATP Tour main draw.

Their games are not all that similar in truth, but they seem to both have that same warrior-like mentality.

They have had similar breakouts too. Nadal won his second major just a month or so before his 20th birthday, while Alcaraz won his second major a month or so after his.

Crucially, though, while Nadal’s first Grand Slam titles were both on clay, Alcaraz is already a multi-surface major winner. Interestingly, clay is the one surface on which he hasn’t won a Grand Slam yet.

They have played each other three times, with Nadal winning two of them. The last time, they met, though, Alcaraz not only won but beat Nadal on clay. It was at the Madrid Masters and he also then beat Novak Djokovic in the semi-final before winning the title.

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Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.