'Can't imagine tennis without Nadal,' says Alcaraz

MADRID: Carlos Alcaraz admitted Friday that it is impossible to "imagine tennis without Rafa" as he hailed superstar compatriot Rafael Nadal who is closing in on the end of his career.

Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, will be 38 in June and has made just a handful of appearances since January 2023 due mostly to a hip injury.

"I don't want to imagine it yet. Like any Rafa fan, like any tennis fan, no one wants to imagine the tour without Rafa," said 20-year-old Alcaraz after making the third round of the Madrid Open where he is the defending champion.

"Personally, I want to make the most of Rafa, every time he steps on the court, whenever he can play.

"I know that's what he wants, that's what he craves, and that he works for it day in, day out to feel competitive, to be able to go out on the court and try to win.

"Whenever I can, I will be there to enjoy his tennis as much as possible."

Nadal will attempt to reach the third round in Madrid on Saturday when he faces Alex De Minaur of Australia, the man who knocked him out of the Barcelona tournament last week.--AFP

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