David Ferrer knew there was "something special" about Carlos Alcaraz on the day he first met his young compatriot.
The meeting between the former world No. 3 and Alcaraz was arranged by Albert Molina, the 18-year-old's agent.
The pair enjoyed some rallies on the hard court of the Alicante club, and they also played a tie-break.
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“If he didn’t beat me, he was very close,” Ferrer told the ATP Tour Insider newsletter.
“It was surprising to see his ball speed, but above all that I couldn’t hurt him with my flat ball. He used his hands very well and I could see that he was very fast. For that age he had very good footwork and it was very difficult to hit a winner against him.
“I’m not saying it to look clever, but right then I saw something special in him, something different to any other player.
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“I’ve trained with a lot of young boys. But when a 14-year-old copes with your tempo like that and you can see his desire to beat you in a tie-break – while always being respectful – it’s because he has something special.”
Earlier this week, Alcaraz broke into the top 10 - the same age Nadal managed the feat - and Ferrer can understand why they are being mentioned in the same breath, although he is keen not to draw comparisons between the pair.
“I see similar things in terms of the premature capacity to learn and the ambition,” the 27-time ATP Tour-level winner said.
“That maturity in someone so young is not normal,” he continued. “Nor is the way he handles pressure, playing in big stadiums, playing a Masters 1000 and not shying away from it. Normally there would be some stage fright, but neither he nor Rafa has had that. They’re different.
“But I don’t like comparing them, because what Rafa has done is huge. He’s a legend of tennis, the best player in history.
"Comparing them would be a big burden for Carlos. He will be a player who has a chance to be the No. 1 in the world. He will have a lot of chances to win Grand Slams, but he has his whole career ahead of him.
“Nobody can overshadow Rafa because of everything he has been and continues to be, because he’s the No. 1 in the Race [ATP Race to Turin]. The good thing is that we can enjoy both of them.
"It’s not that one is arriving when the other is leaving, one is the No. 1 and the other is the No. 2 in the Race.”
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