Alcaraz says Nadal is still the man to beat at Roland Garros Tennis News
Carlos Alcaraz expects 14-time champion Rafa Nadal to perform at a “spectacular level” at the French Open if he can recover from his injuries before the second Grand Slam of the year.
Nadal skipped the ongoing Madrid Open after suffering a setback in his recovery from a hip injury sustained at the Australian Open in January. The 22-time major champion also missed tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
Alcaraz has emerged as the favorite for Roland Garros after wins on clay in Buenos Aires and Barcelona, but the world number two said Nadal cannot be ruled out and expects his fellow Spaniard to return to Rome next week.
“Hopefully he will be in Rome and then at Roland Garros, where he will be the opponent to beat,” Alcaraz told reporters after defeating Alexander Zverev 6-1 6-2 on Tuesday to reach the Madrid quarterfinals.
“Although he hasn’t played since Australia, a guy who has won a tournament 14 times, it will always be difficult to beat him in that tournament, even if he comes without match rhythm.
“It will be difficult for him too, tennis requires that competitive rhythm, but Rafa being Rafa, even if he comes without many matches, he will definitely show a great level.”
Alcaraz, who turns 20 on Friday, said the news of Nadal’s return is encouraging as he hopes to continue learning from the 36-year-old.
“I say this as a player and a tennis lover,” Alcaraz said. “All these months it is a pity that we have not been able to see him in tournaments.”