Carlos Alcaraz delights Madrid crowd with epic three-set win over Novak Djokovic
Carlos Alcaraz has become the first man to defeat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic back-to-back on clay after he claimed a 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 victory over the World No 1 to reach the Madrid Open final.
Alcaraz is also the youngest Madrid Open finalist in history and will meet either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Alexander Zverev in the championship match at the Manolo Santana Stadium.
Alcaraz started off fast and furious claiming an early break and holding the edge in the first set under severe pressure from Djokovic.
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Djokovic finally broke Alcaraz in the eighth game but failed to convert a set point on the youngster’s serve in the tenth.
Alcaraz saved three break points in forcing the first set to a tiebreak but Djokovic would snatch the opening stanza.
In the second set, Alcaraz started to reel off service games with more ease while also increasing the pressure on the Djokovic serve in the early going.
Despite that pressure as the set went on Djokovic showed why he has the reputation as the best returner in the business, but he couldn’t convert break points in the ninth and 11th games.
Those missed opportunities would cost Djokovic as Alcaraz claimed the set after taking a 0-40 lead and converting the second of his three set points.
Alcaraz was the bolder of the two men comfortably hitting more winners while also committing more unforced errors.
Despite putting Djokovic under intense pressure early in the third set Alcaraz couldn’t break the Serb, and when the tide turned the World No 1 just couldn’t find a way to crack the Spaniard’s serve.
Almost fittingly the third set went to a tiebreak which produced plenty of drama, but was won by Alacaraz, who made the most of an early mini-break and held his nerve against a nearly flawless Djokovic.
“I don’t know what the difference [between us] was,” said Alcaraz after his three-hour, 35-minute win. “It was so close. 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 tie-break. Honestly I don’t know what made the difference.”
“This gives me a lot of confidence to play the final tomorrow,” said Alcaraz. “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.”
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