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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday May 11, 2022

Anybody who has been paying attention to men’s tennis over the last year has probably had a hard time avoiding the inevitable: comparing Carlos Alcaraz to Rafael Nadal.

It’s low-hanging fruit, and the fact that Alcaraz is from Spain, and breaking age-related records not achieved by a teenager since Nadal himself, makes the on-paper similarities between the two hard to ignore.

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Add to any debate the fact that, as teenagers, both possessed a world-beating physicality to their games that most peers in their age group could only dream about, and one can see why it’s so difficult to avoid lumping the two together in discussion.

But Nadal says that such comparisons are fruitless and keep us from enjoying what is unique and singular about Alcaraz. Can’t we just enjoy him without expecting him to win 13 Roland-Garros titles? Nadal says yes.

On Wednesday in Rome Nadal was asked who was stronger: a 19-year-old Rafa or a 19-year-old Alcaraz? He had a great reply, so we’ll publish it in full:

“I don't know, man. And I will not be able to talk every single day about who is going to be or who is stronger at that day, no? I forgot how I was myself,” Nadal said. “The only thing that we can do is enjoy the career of an amazing player like Carlos. Will be better, even if it's interesting, you stop comparing him on me.”

Nadal, who defeated Johh Isner in straight sets on Tuesday and will face Denis Shapovalov in the round of 16, continued:

“If he's able to win 25 Grand Slams, it is going to be amazing for him and for our country, and I will be happy for him. But let's let him to enjoy his personal career. I enjoyed my personal career. I think I am super happy the way that I was able to manage my tennis career. Is his moment now to manage his personal career the way that he wants it, no?

“We cannot be all time thinking about how was it, how he is today. He is what he is. He is fantastic. Probably in 2005, I will not say about myself that I was fantastic, but I think I was quite good, too. That's it.

“Different moments. Different careers. Different way to approach things because the times are changing. But let's enjoy him. That's it, no? Don't put pressure, extra pressure, on him. Don't ask me every time. Every time that you are going to ask me, I am going to say the same thing.

“I am super happy to have an amazing player like him in our country. It's super good for our sport. Honestly, in an egoistic way, like a spectator, to have somebody like Carlos that we are going to have a chance to enjoy his career for the next I don't know how many years, it's great.

“But now I am still playing. I am focused about trying to do the things that I need to do. That's it.”

Well, said Rafa, those are words for all of us to live by.


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