High-profile tennis never stops. This year the clay season is really full of commitments; immediately after Madrid we fly to Italy for the Masters1000 in Rome, with the Foro Italico that will be able to welcome some audiences starting from the round of 16.
All this, to better prepare for Roland Garros, which will begin at the end of May. After the slip with Andrey Rublev, Rafael Nadal has regained his usual lucidity. The victory in Barcelona in a beautiful match with Stefanos Tsitsipas and the excellent debut against his possible heir to the throne of Spanish standard-bearer Carlos Alcaraz send him to the top of the favorites list.
But after all, it is impossible not to do it when it comes to a tournament on clay in which he participates, especially if he is looking for the tenth seal in Italy, escaped last year after the knockout with Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals.
In all likelihood we will also see Novak Djokovic again in Rome, one who has always gotten along quite well with the Eternal City: five victories, including the last one last year in the unprecedented pre-autumn guise, and as many lost finals.
Not for nothing, the couple made up of the Iberian and the Serbian have practically monopolized the Roman scene since their advent: together they combine fourteen victories in the last sixteen editions, with only a two-year break between 2016 and 2017.
If the first to break the ten-year hegemony was Andy Murray, unfortunately fallen out of favor due to his physical torments, the following year it was Alexander Zverev who lifted the trophy that made him impose the attention of the media, considering him a next number 1 in the world.
The German, however, did not meet expectations, still failing to take that decisive step towards the tennis elite, and in 2021, despite the Acapulco tournament brought home, he still does not seem to have made it definitively.
Rafael Nadal defeated countryman Carlos Alcaraz 6-1, 6-2 in the second round of the Madrid Masters on Wednesday. And after the match, Nadal heaped rich praise on the talented 18-year-old.
Rafael Nadal on his serve
“I wish Carlos the best, he has the values that society needs,” Rafael Nadal said.
“For me, more important than any success is to be a good person. When you have values, the stages are covered at a greater speed. He has everything to be a great player. It was a difficult game with a young man who is very strong,” Nadal continued.
“The only thing he needs is time because he is already a great tennis player. The greatest respect for a rival is to compete until the end.” The Spaniard also pointed out that his serve is improving with each passing day, after some real struggles with the shot in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
“The victory in Barcelona helped me and things have gotten better,” the 34-year-old said. “I have been serving much better for days. I have worked on it and we have studied things. I feel comfortable with the service again since I arrived in Madrid. I have recovered some things with the work we have done.”