Nadal cruises past Alcaraz in Madrid Open

The 20-time Grand Slam winner, seeking his sixth title in Madrid, was never threatened by fellow Spaniard Alcaraz, winning 6-1, 6-2 win over the teenage sensation.

Rafael Nadal greets Carlos Alcarez at the net after winning his second round match in Madrid on Wednesday-REUTERS

In a much-anticipated battle of generations, Rafael Nadal showed he was still clearly the man to beat in Spanish tennis, cruising to a 6-1, 6-2 win over teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz in the second round of the Madrid Open on Wednesday.

Nadal, seeking his sixth title in Madrid, was never threatened by Alcaraz, who turned 18 on Wednesday.

The 120th-ranked Alcaraz was coming off his first victory at a Masters 1000 event and had called the match against his idol a “dream come true.”

After the crowd at the “Magic Box” center court sang “Happy Birthday" to him, Alcaraz squandered a break point in the first game and then struggled to keep up with Nadal.

The wild-card entry was marred by unforced errors, earning his lone break toward the end of the second set.

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Alcaraz needed medical attention in the third game after losing a long rally, apparently hurting his arm or shoulder while going for an overhead smash.

“It was a difficult match against a youngster who has been playing very well and who has an enormous potential ahead of him,” Nadal said on Wednesday.

“All he needs is some time. In addition to being a great tennis player, he also has great values, which is something society needs right now.”

Zverev, Evans progress

2018 champion Alexander Zverev comfortably defeated 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2.

The fifth-seeded German has reached the Madrid quarterfinals or better in his last three appearances in the Spanish capital. He will next face Daniel Evans, who defeated John Millman 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3.

“Kei is someone who has done well here, reaching the final and he has beaten me on clay before,” Zverev said. “I’m definitely happy with this performance.”

Seventh-seeded Diego Schwartzman lost 2-6, 6-4, 6-1 to Aslan Karatsev.

In the women’s draw, Paula Badosa defeated Belinda Bencic 6-4, 7-5 to become the first Spanish woman to reach the semifinals in Madrid. She will face top-ranked Ashleigh Barty, who got past Petra Kvitova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

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