First Nadal, now Djokovic: Teen downs another star to reach Madrid Open final

Rafael Nadal one day. Novak Djokovic the next. The list of victims of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz keeps growing.

And so does the hype over tennis’ newest sensation.

After defeating his idol Nadal in the quarter-finals, the 19-year-old Alcaraz rallied to beat top-ranked Djokovic 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) after more than 3 1/2 hours on Saturday (Sunday AEST) to reach the Madrid Open 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 tie-breaker … I’ve enjoyed it. Until the last point I was being able to smile.”

Alcaraz became the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic at the same claycourt 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 in the final will give Alcaraz his fourth title this season, the most of any player.

He will face defending champion Alexander Zverev, who defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. The second-seeded German player converted three of his five break opportunities to clinch the victory in nearly two hours in match that ended after 1am local time.

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 the French Open 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.”

Carlos Alcaraz defeated Novak Djokovic to make the final in Madrid.Credit:Getty Images

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 tie-breaker.

The matchwinner 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.”

Alcaraz lost both matches he played against Zverev, all last year on hardcourts.

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.

“When I had the match point, I was like, I had to win it from the beginning, otherwise it’s going to be very tough for me,” Jabeur said. “But I’m very happy and trying to realise that I won today, really.”

Pegula, a one-time tour winner, will reach a career-high No.11 ranking on Monday.

AP

News, results and expert analysis from the weekend of sport sent every Monday. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.

Most Viewed in Sport

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article