Alcaraz, Nadal Continue Recovery from Injuries at Madrid Open While Djokovic Skips Tournament

Spain's Rafael Nadal serves the ball to Australia's Alex De Minaur during the ATP Barcelona Open "Conde de Godo" tennis tournament singles match at the Real Club de Tenis in Barcelona, on April 17, 2024. (AFP)
Spain's Rafael Nadal serves the ball to Australia's Alex De Minaur during the ATP Barcelona Open "Conde de Godo" tennis tournament singles match at the Real Club de Tenis in Barcelona, on April 17, 2024. (AFP)
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Alcaraz, Nadal Continue Recovery from Injuries at Madrid Open While Djokovic Skips Tournament

Spain's Rafael Nadal serves the ball to Australia's Alex De Minaur during the ATP Barcelona Open "Conde de Godo" tennis tournament singles match at the Real Club de Tenis in Barcelona, on April 17, 2024. (AFP)
Spain's Rafael Nadal serves the ball to Australia's Alex De Minaur during the ATP Barcelona Open "Conde de Godo" tennis tournament singles match at the Real Club de Tenis in Barcelona, on April 17, 2024. (AFP)

Carlos Alcaraz is back from injury to try to win a third consecutive Madrid Open this week, with Rafael Nadal also in Monday's draw but top-ranked Novak Djokovic missing.

Alcaraz will be competing in his first European clay-court event of the season after skipping Monte Carlo and Barcelona because of a right arm injury. The 20-year-old Spaniard begins his title defense against Alexander Shevchenko or Arthur Rinderknech.

Nadal, a record five-time champion in Madrid, continues his comeback from injury by facing American wild-card Darwin Blanch in the first round. The 22-time Grand Slam champion will then meet 10th-seed Alex de Minaur if he advances.

Nadal lost to De Minaur in the second round at the Barcelona Open last week in his first tournament for more than three months.

The 37-year-old Nadal last won the Madrid title in 2017, when he beat Dominic Thiem in the final.

Three-time champion Djokovic will not play for a second consecutive year in Madrid, reducing his clay-court preparations for his French Open title defense.

The 24-time Grand Slam winner is still likely to have the Italian Open in Rome to hone his clay game in mid-May before the event at Roland Garros starts on May 26.

Djokovic is yet to win a title this season after losing in the semifinals of Monte Carlo. He also skipped the Miami tournament in March.

Top-seeded Jannik Sinner, who beat Djokovic in the Australian Open final, will open his Madrid campaign against Lorenzo Sonego or a qualifier.

Casper Ruud, who won the Barcelona title, faces Zhizhen Zhang or Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round.

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek and defending champion Aryna Sabalenka lead the women's field, with Swiatek looking to win her first title at the clay-court tournament. She will also be out to capture a third consecutive French Open title.

After a first-round bye, Swiatek meets Wang Xiyu or Ana Bogdan. Sabalenka plays Elisabetta Cocciaretto or Magda Linette in the second round.



Teenagers Yamal and Cubarsi Included in Young Spain Squad for European Championship 

Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)
Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)
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Teenagers Yamal and Cubarsi Included in Young Spain Squad for European Championship 

Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)
Barcelona striker Lamine Yamal celebrates during the LaLiga match FC Barcelona vs Rayo Vallecano, in Barcelona, Spain, 19 May 2024. (EPA)

Spain is set to take a young squad to the European Championship, with teenagers Lamine Yamal and Pau Cubarsi among the players picked by coach Luis de la Fuente on Monday.

Fermín López, the 21-year-old Barcelona forward, also was included in the list of 29 players announced by the coach, who will have to cut three names from the squad for the tournament in Germany. López has yet to make his debut with the national team.

“They have talent and motivation,” De la Fuente said. “They are very versatile players. Fermín will take a leap forward with this call-up. I hope that they will benefit and show all the potential that they have.”

Ayoze Pérez was another of the few surprises on the list, with the 30-year-old Real Betis forward getting his first call-up to the senior squad.

Other strikers included Atletico Madrid’s Álvaro Morata and Real Madrid’s Joselu, as well as the 16-year-old Yamal of Barcelona and 21-year-old Nico Williams of Athletic Bilbao.

Along with Cubarsi, the 17-year-old Barcelona center back, other defenders included Madrid’s Nacho Fernández and 38-year-old veteran Jesús Navas of Sevilla.

Forwards Marco Asensio of Paris Saint-Germain, Pablo Sarabia of Wolverhampton, Brais Méndez of Real Sociedad and Gerard Moreno of Villarreal were left out.

Veteran Atletico midfielder Koke Resurrección also didn’t make the squad.

Spain will be aiming for a record fourth European Championship. It was drawn into Group B with Italy, Albania and Croatia.

“It’s a very difficult group but we are prepared,” De la Fuente said. “We will be fighting to be among the title contenders in the end.”

Spain will play warmups against Andorra and Northern Ireland before heading to Germany.