Rafael Nadal announces end to 2021 season through injury
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Carlos Alcaraz has made history as the youngest man in Open Era history to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open. The 18-year-old overcame world No 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the last eight, where he will face Felix Auger-Aliassime on Wednesday (September 8). The world No 55 has often been likened to fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal, and has now revealed how the 20-time Grand Slam champion motivated him to reach new heights.
Alcaraz had started to make waves on the ATP Tour earlier this year, beating then-world No 34 Adrian Mannarino to set up a clash with Nadal on the clay courts of Miami on what was his 18th birthday.
The teenager continued to build on his form, reaching the third round of Roland Garros and winning his first title at the ATP 250 in Umag in July.
He then proved he could replicate his success on the hard courts, reaching the Winston-Salem semi-final the week before the US Open.
The world No 55 beat 26th seed Cameron Norrie in his opening match in Flushing Meadows but it wasn’t until the third round that he really made a statement.
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The 18-year-old managed to dispatch third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in a tense five-set battle on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday (September 3).
Alcaraz outlasted the recent Roland Garros runner-up in a 6-3 4-6 7-6(2) 0-6 7-6(5) epic to book a place in his first-ever second week of a Major.
The Spanish teen followed up the impressive win over Tsitsipas with another five-set victory, this time over qualifier Peter Gojowczyk.
He came from two-sets-to-one down to conquer the former world No 39 5-7 6-1 5-7 6-2 6-0.
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Alcaraz now faces another young, though more established talent in Felix Auger-Aliassime as the pair do battle in Tuesday’s (September 7) quarterfinal.
While enjoying the best tournament of his career so far, the Spaniard has recognised Rafael Nadal and for his guidance when he was younger, saying the pair had been in contact.
The 18-year-old attributed his all-or-nothing on-court attitude to that of the 20-time Grand Slam champion from Mallorca, who he is often compared to.
“Thanks to Rafa, I learned the importance of playing with high energy and giving everything from the first ball to the last,” Alcaraz told the New York Times.
“The challenge of trying to go to where Rafa has gone is also a big motivation for me, even if I know it’s all but impossible.”
The recent Umag champion famously faced his idol and mentor on the clay courts of Madrid earlier this year, on his 18th birthday.
Speaking after their match back in May, the 35-year-old was complimentary of his young Spanish successor, saying: “I’ve spoken a few times when I’ve seen him at tournaments… I see a lot of great qualities in him already.”
“For example when playing a match like today, he didn’t complain a single time and had a great attitude despite losing the way he did. In Australia, he had a 15-day quarantine, and he accepted it without complaint,” Nadal added.
“When it’s time to train, every time I’ve seen him practice he has a great attitude and good energy. This is what I see from him on a day-to-day basis and I can see how he treats the people around him. To me, this shows that he has great character.”
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