Rafael Nadal acknowledged Carlos Alcaraz can be considered a “replacement” for him after losing to his teenage rival at the Madrid Open.
Alcaraz is one of the most exciting rising stars on the ATP Tour.
He enhanced his growing status with a three-set defeat of the “King of Clay” in the quarter-finals in the Spanish capital on Friday.
In doing so, Alcaraz became the first teenager to beat Nadal on clay and he has now won five straight matches against top-10 opponents.
Given both men hail from Spain, the comparisons are sure to be made and Nadal can see why many would see Alcaraz as the man to take up the mantle.
“It is evident that he is a replacement because, in the first instance, he is 19 years old and the other (Nadal) 36. If it is from today or not I don’t know, (but) we’ll see,” Nadal said.
“Above all, I’m happy for him. He has been better than me in several facets of the game and I need to improve, as I have been saying.”
Nadal, though, says nothing changes in his determination to extend his record of 21 major titles for a male player when he attempts to win a 14th French Open title.
Already, his 13 French Open titles are also representing a benchmark tally.
“[There is] nothing that will not enter into logic and is accepted naturally, calmly and with the certainty that there is a path to follow for another two and a half weeks.
“This is to arrive with real options to generate opportunities for myself,” he added.
“In that sense it is an easy defeat to digest, although I do not take any credit from Carlos.
“The first thing is to congratulate the rival. But from there I have to do my self-criticism and understand what needs to be improved (upon) to arrive with options next week and especially in two.
“I have to improve and it improves with games, you have to follow the path with the right determination, you have to analyse things and look forward, there is a goal ahead that overcomes anything.”(dpa/NAN)