Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal is currently recovering from a muscle injury he sustained last month AFP / Patrick HAMILTON

World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz has backed Rafael Nadal's decision to become the Saudi Tennis Federation's ambassador amid the massive backlash the latter has been receiving for the same.

Nadal saw himself in the middle of a controversy in the tennis community when he announced he would be promoting and supporting tennis in Saudi Arabia. Nadal's decision did not go down well with many of his fans, as they saw the Spaniard being involved in Saudi Arabia's bid to turn attention away from its human rights issues - a strategy usually referred to as "sportswashing".

Carlos Alcaraz: Who better than Rafa to promote tennis?

Alcaraz, who is set to begin his title defence at Argentina Open, said that he did not see Nadal's choice to become the ambassador of Saudi Arabia's tennis as negative. The 22-time Grand Slam champion was just promoting tennis in an area on the map where it lacked coverage.

"I haven't heard much criticism, I have heard people say that they have criticised him. Rafa has decided to sign as an ambassador and it doesn't seem bad to me. He has signed as an ambassador of tennis in a country that is developing and opening up to the world of sport. Who better than Rafa to promote tennis in places where perhaps it was never played before?" Alcaraz said in an interview,

Alcaraz also said that extending tennis into Saudi Arabia would only mean the players would have more venues to compete in. The current Wimbledon champion also pointed out that Saudi Arabia's major investments in football and boxing in recent times are signs of a potential for similar funding for tennis.

"It is good for tennis that there are more venues, that there are more and more countries where we can play. Saudi Arabia is evolving very quickly in every sense, as a country and in the world of sports. They are betting on football, boxing, now a lot of tennis. I don't know how far they will go in the world of tennis," the 20-year-old star added.

Carlos Alcaraz in Saudi Arabia

Meanwhile, Alcaraz's opinion on promoting tennis in Saudi Arabia was not surprising considering he played an exhibition game against Novak Djokovic in Riyadh last year in December. The young Spanish star came from a set down to beat World No. 1 Djokovic 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Alcaraz is also set to join Djokovic and Nadal in the upcoming "6 Kings Slam" exhibition event in October. The event is a part of the Riyadh Season extravaganza in Saudi Arabia, which would also see other participants such as Jannik Sinner, Daniil Medvedev, and Holger Rune.

The Riyadh event is going to be very lucrative for the players, with the winner of the competition reportedly set to receive a whopping £4.8 million ($6 million) in prize money, while each player is guaranteed a substantial £1.2 million ($1.5 million) appearance fee.

Nadal is currently recovering from a muscle injury he sustained while playing at Brisbane International last month. The 37-year-old player is doing everything possible to make his on-court return ahead of the Qatar Open, which is due to go underway on Feb. 19.

In a video he shared on his social media account recently, Nadal was seen pulling off an extraordinary stunt in a swimming pool, showing off his impressive lung capacity. The clip showed one of Nadal's swimming sessions while training at his academy in Mallorca. He did an entire lap underwater from one end of the pool to another and only rose for air halfway through his return journey.

Nadal has had a decent record in Doha, having competed there on eight occasions. He lifted the trophy in 2014 and also reached the final two more times, in 2010 and 2016.