Madrid, May 8
Carlos Alcaraz is no longer allowing nerves to get the better of him and said that he is ready to regularly go toe-to-toe with the top players after the Spaniard rallied past world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to reach the Madrid Open final. The 19-year-old prevailed 6-7(5) 7-5 7-6(5) over the Serbian in an absorbing contest that lasted more than three hours, becoming the first player to beat Djokovic and Rafa Nadal at the same claycourt event.
2nd title Carlos Alcaraz won his second ATP Masters 1000 title after defeating defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-1 in the Madrid Open final
Alcaraz was ranked 120 in the world just a year ago but has climbed into the top-10 on the back of three titles this season. Asked what was different about his game now, Alcaraz said: “I would say that I am more mature to manage the tough moments, the nerves, everything. I mean, to manage everything on court. Well, I think I am able to play long rallies.”
In a see-saw clash that could have gone either way, Alcaraz used his aggression to great effect as he smashed a series of winners past Djokovic in the tie-break to take the match. “As I have always said, you have to try to go for the match. In those decisive moments are when you see the good players and the top players, I want to make a difference on that,” added Alcaraz, who will move up to sixth when the new rankings are released on Monday. “I feel ready to compete against them (Djokovic and Nadal) in every single tournament, on every single surface. In a Grand Slam, it’s completely different. I think that when you have to play best-of-five sets… But I think that I am ready.”
‘Playing my best tennis’
Despite the loss, Djokovic is optimism about his game going into the French Open.
“I definitely played very good tennis, I mean, the best that I have played this year,” Djokovic said. “Probably when the disappointment of losing this match passes, I will have a lot of positives to take away from this week.”
Djokovic said he felt he could have come away with the victory against Alcaraz if he had been “able to capitalise when it mattered”. “I had a lot of chances,” he said. “It was a fantastic match. Great battle.”
The Madrid Open was only his fourth tournament of the year, and third on clay. — Agencies