World No. 9 Carlos Alcaraz advances into his first championship match in Madrid after producing a massive upset over top seed Novak Djokovic, becoming the youngest player to beat the World No. 1 in 17 years.
Teenager Carlos Alcaraz continues to make history, becoming the youngest finalist in the Mutua Madrid Open ATP Masters 1000, celebrating its 20th anniversary this season.
Moreover, the 19-year-old is the first tennis player to defeat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic back-to-back on clay; the unprecedented achievement comes as a result of a nearly flawless week in Madrid.
In their first tour-level meeting, the Spaniard toppled Djokovic 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5), after three hours and 35 minutes Saturday afternoon.
In his on-court interview, Alcaraz commented: “This gives me a lot of confidence to play the final tomorrow.”
“I know that I played a really good game, and for the rest of the season, I think I am able to play against the best players in the world and beat them as well, so it gives me a lot of confidence.
The reigning Miami Open champion is guaranteed to achieve a career-high of World No. 6 on Monday, following an impressive run that led him to contest his second final at ATP 1000 level in a month.
In that regard, the Murcia native stressed: “I just try to make results, to [play] a good game in every tournament to still be there with the best in the world.
“Tomorrow, I will go for it in the final as I did in Miami, and I’m really happy to be able to play a second Masters 1000 final.”
Early in April, he overcame sixth seed, Casper Ruud, to win his maiden Masters 1000 crown in Miami.
Throughout his campaign on home soil, the 4-time ATP titlist beat World No. 27 Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 7-5, ninth seed Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-7(4), 6-3, World No. 4 Nadal 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 and the World No. 1, moving into Sunday’s final.
The marathon match against the world number one took place in the morning in the Manolo Santana Stadium.
Despite producing an early break to lead Djokovic 2-1, the 20-time Grand Slam champion would bounce back from a break down, winning 21 straight points on serve to take the opener 7-6(5) in 62 minutes.
Alcaraz made a fast start to the second set, breaking his adversary’s serve to open a 3-2 advantage over the Belgrade native.
He would go ahead to raising his level, producing another break to steal the set 7-6(5), forcing the 34-year-old to a decider after 65 minutes.
The final set rounded up an epic battle; Djokovic saved three break points to hold for 2-2 in an 8-minute game, only for Alcaraz to hit back, leading 3-2 in the fifth game.
By the end of that set, the three-time champion in Madrid slipped on the clay surface, which required to call for a medical timeout to treat what looked like a finger injury.
The 86-time ATP titlist, who is yet to lift a trophy thus far this season, went back to play, holding from 15-40 to 3-3, to level up the third set.
Relentless, Alcaraz would save a break point, holding for 4-3. At 5-4, the Spaniard had a first match point opportunity, which Djokovic saved with an ace under pressure after a 10-minute game to leave things tied at 5-5.
The parity was such that the players were forced to play a third set tiebreak, won by the El Palmar-born player 7-5, claiming his 27th triumph this season.
Overall, Juan Carlos Ferrero’s pupil hit 51 winners and 57 unforced errors compared to Djokovic’s 24 winners and 31 unforced errors.
In his post-match press conference, Djokovic said: “Congrats to him. He held his nerve very well. For somebody of his age to play so maturely and courageously is impressive. He deserved to win.”
Speaking about his performance, he asserted: “I definitely played very good tennis, I mean, the best that I have played this year.
“Probably when the disappointment of losing this match passes, I will have a lot of positives to take away from this week.”