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Nadal to face promising Spanish teenager at Madrid Open

It wasn't too long ago that Rafael Nadal was handing Carlos Alcaraz a PlayStation as the boy's prize at a local tennis tournament in Spain.

Now the Spanish great is about to play against the promising youngster in the second round of the Madrid Open.

The 17-year-old Alcaraz defeated Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 6-0 on Monday to set up the “dream” matchup against the 20-time grand slam champion.

Rafael Nadal of Spain poses for a photo next to the trophy after winning the final Godo tennis tournament against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, April 25, 2021. Nadal won by 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

Alcaraz will face his idol on the Magic Box center court on Wednesday, his birthday.

“It will be a dream come through to play against Rafa here,” Alcaraz said. “I’ve wanted to play against him since I was a kid. There will be no better way than while celebrating my 18th birthday.”

Alcaraz, who is competing in Madrid on a wild card, turned pro in 2018 and has been considered by many as Spain's successor to 34-year-old Nadal. They practiced together at the Australian Open, where Alcaraz reached the second round.

Rafael Nadal of Spain holds the trophy after winning the final Godo tennis tournament against Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, April 25, 2021. Nadal won by 6-4, 6-7, 7-5 (AP PhotoJoan Monfort)

He won the under-12 title in Madrid in 2015, and two years later reached the final in the under-16 event. A few years ago, Alcaraz and other kids received PlayStations from Nadal after competing in a tournament.

“I’ll try to be as relaxed as possible,” the 120th-ranked Alcaraz said. “I’ll try to play my game and to keep learning and keep having fun.”

In other early round matches, Daniel Evans defeated Jeremy Chardy 7-6 (6), 6-7 (7), 6-2, and Danis Shapovalov got past Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia celebrates after defeating Iga Swiatek of Poland during their match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, Monday, May 3, 2021. (AP PhotoPaul White)

Fabio Fognini, who was disqualified from the Barcelona Open because of foul language, defeated Spanish qualifier Carlos Taberner 7-6 (4), 2-6, 6-3 to set up an all-Italian clash against Matteo Berrettini in the second round.

John Isner defeated Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4, 7-6 (6), while fellow American Reilly Opelka lost to Dominik Koepfer 6-4, 6-4. Other U.S. players who won were Marcos Giron and Tommy Paul.

In the women's draw, top-ranked Ashleigh Barty defeated French Open champion Iga Swiatek 7-5, 6-4 in a round-of-16 match, while Spaniard Paula Badosa got past Anastasija Sevastova 6-7 (0), 7-6 (3), 6-0.

Ashleigh Barty of Australia celebrates after defeating Iga Swiatek of Poland during their match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, Monday, May 3, 2021. (AP PhotoPaul White)

Petra Kvitova defeated Veronika Kudermetova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, while eighth-seeded Belinda Bencic advanced after Ons Jabeur retired.

More AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: https://twitter.com/tazzoni

Ashleigh Barty of Australia celebrates after defeating Iga Swiatek of Poland during their match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, Monday, May 3, 2021. (AP PhotoPaul White)