Teen ace downs Djokovic to reach Madrid final
The list of victims of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz keeps growing.
And so does the hype over tennis’ newest sensation.
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After defeating his idol Nadal in the quarterfinals, the 19-year-old Alcaraz rallied to beat top-ranked Djokovic 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) after more than three-and-a-half hours to reach the Madrid Open men’s single final.
“It was one of those matches to enjoy,” Alcaraz said.
“Despite the tension, despite being the semi finals, being 7-6 in the third-set tiebreaker… I’ve enjoyed it. Until the last point I was being able to smile.”
In the women’s final, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia won her biggest career title by defeating Jessica Pegula of the US in three sets.
Jabeur, the first Arab woman in the top 10, won 7-5, 0-6, 6-3 for her second career title.
Pegula, a one-time tour winner, will reach a career-high No.11 ranking on Monday.
Alcaraz became the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic at the same clay-court event.
He converted his third match point in front of a raucous home crowd on the Caja Magica centre court.
“It’s a spectacular feeling right now,” Alcaraz said.
“I’m very excited to be able to play these kind of matches, to be able to beat Rafa yesterday, to be able to beat the No.1 today.”
A win on Monday (AEST) would give Alcaraz his fourth title this season, the most of any player.
Alcaraz, the youngest player in the top 10 since Nadal in 2005, has won this year in Miami, Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.
Djokovic remains without a title this season as he continues to try to regain his best form going into his title defence at Roland-Garros this month.
“Congrats to him. He held his nerves very well,” Djokovic said.
“For somebody of his age to play so maturely and courageously is impressive. He deserved to win.”
Alcaraz, the youngest ever to reach the Madrid semi finals, took an early lead in the first set but Djokovic rallied.
The Spaniard took the second set after Djokovic wasted three break opportunities to serve for the match, and kept the pressure on during the third until finally capitalising on one of his many chances in the tiebreaker.
The match-winner was one of Alcaraz’s more than 30 forehand winners that kept Djokovic on the defensive throughout. Alcaraz had 51 winners to Djokovic’s 24.
“It was so close,” Alcaraz said.
“He had the chances to break my serve at the end of the second set. In the first set, as well, it was so close in the tiebreak. Honestly, I don’t know what made the difference.”
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