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Friday, April 19, 2024

Alex de Minaur Snubs Carlos Alcaraz To Name Rising Star Who Reminds Him of Rafael Nadal

In the latest episode of the UTS-backed All on the Table talk show, Alex de Minaur hailed Jannik Sinner as the player from today’s generation who can be compared to Rafael Nadal. By doing so, he overlooked Carlos Alcaraz.

The Ultimate Tennis Showdown, a Patrick Mouratoglou concept, occasionally drops All on the Table videos on their YouTube channel. In the latest release, Casper Ruud invites De Minaur and Dominic Thiem to Oslo, Norway, for a chat.

As the trio spoke about Nadal, Ruud highlighted the Spaniard’s surprisingly heavy backhand (via Express). He said the amount of spin on the 22-time Grand Slam champion’s backhand took him by shock when he first played it. He believed while it was not the prettiest backhand on the tour, it was as effective as a forehand.

“His backhand cross is quite heavy, like a normal right-handed forehand in my eyes. The first time I hit with him, I was like, ‘What the hell?’ His backhand looks on TV a bit sloppy or slow, but it’s heavy, it’s crazy.”

Alex de Minaur brought up Jannik Sinner, saying the Italian’s backhand has extreme spin and power, almost akin to a forehand. This was similar to Nadal as Ruud said, he added.

“The comparison now is Sinner. His two-handed backhand is almost like a forehand because he’s getting so much force and rotation on it as well, and that’s the same with Rafa on the other side.”

Sinner has been compared with each of the Big 3 recently, given his imperious form in the last few months. However, he has most frequently been likened to Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Alcaraz, meanwhile, is touted as Nadal’s successor.

Hailing from the same country adds weight to the comparison. So much so that the budding Sinner vs Alcaraz rivalry has already been labelled the next Djokovic vs Nadal rivalry. Hence, it is a rare sight to see Sinner get compared to Nadal while Alcaraz is not mentioned.

Treating Rafael Nadal like a regular player helped Alex de Minaur break H2H duck

De Minaur spoke extensively about Nadal during Episode 5 of All on the Table. The Australian first crossed paths with the former World No.1 in the third round of Wimbledon 2018. He reminisced about that match, saying Nadal’s power on grass surprised him. He also gave an insight into his mindset when facing the Spaniard, saying he does not see him as a legend but as an ordinary player.

“So much physicality, even on the grass, so I can only imagine on a clay court. You have to lose all the respect you have for him and just play him as another player.”

Interestingly, all four Alex de Minaur vs Rafael Nadal matches have come at team tournaments or Grand Slams. The latter comprehensively won their Wimbledon 2018 clash, following it up with another victory in their Australian Open 2019 tie at the same stage. The scoreline for both matches read 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 in Nadal’s favor. He won again when they faced off in the semi-final of the ATP Cup 2020, his win sealing the fixture for Spain.

De Minaur broke his duck against Nadal only last year when Spain faced Australia in the group stage of the United Cup 2023. He bounced back after losing the first set to improve the head-to-head to 3-1. Nadal’s withdrawal from Miami Open 2024 means they will not add to the record but a clash at the Monte Carlo Masters could be on the cards.

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