Alcaraz Edges Nadal, Meets Djokovic in Madrid SFs

Alcaraz Edges Nadal, Meets Djokovic in Madrid SFs Photo: TT
Carlos Alcaraz after his victory over Rafael Nadal on court Manolo Santana at the Caja Magica in Madrid, Spain. May 6, 2022. Photo Courtesy: Mutua Madrid Open Media.

Seventh seed Carlos Alcaraz defeats five-time Madrid champion, Rafael Nadal, for the first time in his career, becoming the youngest semifinalist in the tournament’s history.

19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz prevailed over third seed Rafael Nadal, claiming a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory in two hours and 29 minutes on the Manolo Santana court Friday.

In his on-court interview, the teenager expressed his feelings after the triumph over his fellow countryman: “It means a lot to me. All the hard work that I put in every day pays off today, he said. “To beat Rafa, to beat the best player in history on clay, it means a lot to me.”

Alcaraz is enjoying an outstanding season, breaking into the Top 10 following his maiden ATP Masters 1000 victory at the Miami Open early in April.

Aside from his Miami title, he has captured two further titles thus far into 2022, emerging victorious in Barcelona a week ago, beating Pablo Carreno Busta in the championship match.

In February, he lifted his maiden ATP 500 trophy, powering past Diego Schwartzman in the final to become the new Rio Open champion.

On Friday, the win over his idol rewarded the World No. 9 with a place in the Madrid semifinals.

Next, the NextGen star will face the top seeded player, Novak Djokovic, who put out Pole Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-4, after 78 minutes earlier in the day.

On Saturday, Djokovic and Alcaraz will face one another for the first time on tour.

The World No. 1 will be playing his 72nd ATP Masters 1000 semifinal, attempting to continue his quest for a fourth title at the event.

The Serbian, who played only eight matches before setting off his campaign at the Mutua Madrid Open, has been consistently improving his game, going strength from strength within each encounter as he works to find his best tennis.

The Belgrade native’s run in Madrid began against Frenchman Gael Monfils, who he overcame in straight sets.

On his way to advancing to the next round, Djokovic won his first set since contesting a second-round match at the Dubai Tennis Championships late in February.

Furthermore, he received a walkover from Andy Murray, who withdrew from their matchup due to illness, moving into the quarterfinals, where he met Hurkacz.

After his triumph over the World No. 14, he commented: “I was serving really well in the second set, I think that kept me alive.”

I was pleased with the way I was constructing points. I tried to make him run and miss, and overall, It was a solid performance.”

En route to the semifinals, Alcaraz finished off Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 7-5 to move into the second round. He fought his way past ninth seed Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals, where he clashed with the 21-Grand Slam champion.

NADAL vs. ALCARAZ AS IT HAPPENED

The seventh seed dominated the first set, taking the lead by winning the opener 6-2 in 47 minutes, hitting 19 winners to just two from his adversary while recording ten unforced errors to 8 from Nadal, still away from his best form.

Alcaraz and the World No. 4 exchanged breaks of serve early in the set, with the latter saving three break points with his serve to tie the encounter 1-1.

The 4-time ATP titlist would further produce a double break over his opponent, charging to take the opener.

Coming from a set down, Nadal took advantage of an erratic start from Juan Carlos Ferrero’s pupil, who seemed to lack accuracy and consistency in his game.

In the third game, the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion tumbled, twisting his right ankle, requiring a medical timeout.

Back to business, the 36-time Masters 1000 champion was up in the third game when the medical staff rushed to assist a spectator who was unwell.

After a long break, the spectator walked out by his own means while the action resumed on court.

The 35-year-old produced a double break over Alcaraz to extend his advantage to 4-1, winning 11 of 12 points to level up the encounter, forcing a decider.

The third set saw Alcaraz back in form, and as a result, he opened a 3-1 gap, building a solid victory from there to close out 6-3.

All in all, he won 68 percent of his first-serve points to Nadal’s 58 percent.

In addition, the El Palmar-born player fired 37 winners, recording 31 unforced errors compared to 10 and 20 from his adversary, respectively.

Nadal returned to tour-level competition after a stress fracture to his left rib - sustained during his semifinal match against Alcaraz in Indian Wells, forced him to spend six weeks away from tour.

He opened his campaign against the in-form Miomir Kecmanovic, playing a flawless first set, which he won 6-1, rounding the win over the Serbian by adding a 7-6 (4) set to the score.

The second round saw Nadal struggling with his foot, which cost him the second set.

In the decider, he managed to find a way to move past Belgian David Goffin, 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(9), surviving four match points after three hours and eight minutes on Thursday.

On Friday evening, World No. 5, Stefanos Tsitsipas, booked his ticket to the last four by toppling sixth seed, Andrey Rublev, 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 in two hours.

Reigning champion, Alexander Zverev, ousted Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets and will play Tsitsipas on Saturday.

Cecilia demartini
Sports Pundit staff writer @ceci_2812
Cecilia is a writer and a journalist passionate about sports, particularly motorsport, tennis, and soccer

Comment on This Article

0 comments
Reply to
Loading