Carlos Alcaraz believes the sky is the limit after becoming the first player to beat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same clay court tournament as he made it to the Madrid Open final on Saturday.
The 19-year-old Spaniard reached his second ATP Masters final in five weeks and took his first win over reigning world number one, beating Djokovic 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 7-6 (7 / 5) in front of a sold out audience at the Caja Magica.
Alcaraz have achieved seven victories as tour leaders against the top 10 players this season. Enter Sunday’s final against reigning champion Alexander Zverev for a nine-game winning streak, having triumphed in Barcelona a couple of weeks ago.
He is the youngest player to beat a number one in the world in 17 years.
Asked if he sees a limit to what he can achieve, Alcaraz said: “I don’t think so. Tomorrow I will go to the final like I did in Miami. I am really happy to be able to play a second final of the Masters 1000 ”.
“I would say that I feel ready to compete against them (the top players) in every single tournament, on every single surface,” added the Miami champion.
Zverev reached his third final in Madrid by winning 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 against Greek world number five Stefanos Tsitsipas, in a clash that ended at 1:06 local time (2306 GMT on Saturday).
The second-seeded German, champion in the Spanish capital in 2018 and 2021, has extended his winning streak in Madrid to nine consecutive games. Zverev has won both of his previous matches against Alcaraz.
A calm and collected Alcaraz kicked off the match against Djokovic with a break in service, thanks to a timely backhand pass. He was soon 3-1 on seed.
Djokovic, who turns 35 this month, reacted by drawing a 4-4 draw when the set went to the tiebreaker.
A fiery Djokovic accelerated to a 5-1 lead and soon got his hands on four set points.
Alcaraz saved the former with an aggressive comeback and another with an ace. The Spaniard saved a third with a shot from depth of field to reduce his lead to 5-6, but Djokovic closed the set on his fourth chance after 62 minutes.
Players went head to head in the second set, until Alcaraz upped the ante in Game 12, winning key battles at the net and perfectly using his drop shot when he needed it.
The Murcia native got a break and set with a resounding get, dropping a Djokovic drop and hitting a winner from off the doubles lane.
Djokovic cuts his hand
Djokovic avoided three break points on his serve in the fourth game of the decisive game, digging deep for the 2-2.
The world number one fell during the next game and needed medical attention for an injury to his right hand. Two more break points come and go for Alcaraz on his opponent’s serve as Djokovic struggles to keep up 3-3.
It was Djokovic’s turn to put pressure on Alcaraz’s serve, but the seventh-seeded player successfully bypassed a break point to keep the seventh game.
The crowd went wild when Alcaraz blew up a straight winner for his first match point. Djokovic responded with an ace of steel and dug deep to equalize at 5-5.
Everything was reduced to the tie-break of the final set and the Caja Magica trembled with the chants “si se puede” (“Yes, you can”). Alcaraz drew first blood, opening a 4-2 gap.
Djokovic saved a second match point 5-6, but Alcaraz was lucky a third time, scoring a victory in three hours and 35 minutes with another winner by right: his 35th of the match.
Djokovic made only one of the six break points, but still walked away from Madrid with a positive view of his game.
“He held his nerves very well. For someone her age, playing so mature and courageous is impressive. She deserved to win, “said the Serb from Alcaraz.
“I have had many chances and it was a fantastic match. big fight But I am definitely disappointed that I was not able to use my chances.
“I definitely played excellent tennis, the best I’ve played this year.”