Carlos Alcaraz claimed his first Madrid Masters title in dominant style a year ago. The young gun toppled Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in back-to-back matches and ousted Alexander Zverev in the title clash to lift the trophy.
Rafa lost to Carlos in the quarter-final and predicted the youngster's triumph over Novak the following day, saying he had the quality and adrenaline to beat anyone. Alcaraz became the youngest player with victories over Nadal and Djokovic and the first player who defeated them at the same ATP clay-court event.
Carlos ousted Rafa 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in two hours and 28 minutes, delivering his first triumph over a legend. It was Nadal's first tournament after six weeks and a rib injury, and he did not perform at his best. Alcaraz took full advantage of that and overcame the king of clay in sets one and three to emerge at the top and set the semi-final clash against Novak Djokovic.
Carlos saved six out of nine break points and grabbed four return games from five opportunities to control the scoreboard in the sets he won. The youngster fired 37 winners and 31 unforced errors and dictated the pace. Alcaraz met Djokovic for the first time a day later and secured a notable 6-7, 7-5, 7-6 triumph in three hours and 35 minutes of outstanding tennis!
Novak and Carlos kept the crowd on the edge of their seats following a great battle that produced only two breaks of serve.
Carlos Alcaraz wrote history at the last year's Madrid Masters.
The youngster fended off five out of six break points and stayed calm in the second set's closing stages to force a decider and extend his chances.
The final set offered no breaks of serve, and Carlos prevailed in the tie break to set the title clash against Alexander Zverev. Novak experienced an early setback and trailed 4-2 in the opener before pulling the break back in game eight.
The Serb had the advantage in his games, delivering one good hold after another and taking the tie break 7-5 for a massive boost. With no room for errors, Alcaraz erased a break chance with a powerful serve at 4-4 in set number two and another at 5-5 to remain competitive.
Carlos pushed strong on the return in the 12th game and grabbed a break at 15 with a forehand down the line winner to force a decider. Djokovic survived three break points in the final set's fourth game and two more at 2-3 to extend the drama.
Carlos fended off a break chance in game seven with a service winner, and Novak had a massive opportunity to create three break chances at 4-4. He missed a routine forehand, and Alcaraz held at 30 for an enormous boost. The Serb denied a match point in game ten with a service winner and closed it with another after four deuces.
Alcaraz moved 3-1 ahead in the tie break with a backhand down the line bullet and generated a 5-3 lead with a good serve. Novak stayed in contention with a deep return in the following point before spraying a forehand mistake at 4-5 to face two more match points.
He saved the first with a service winner, and Carlos seized the second with a forehand down the line winner to celebrate an epic victory and advance into the final! "I can not predict tomorrow's result; it will be a tough match.
One of the best players in history faces an in-form young player. Carlos can beat Novak; there's no reason not to. He can not afford the downside like today in the second set. Carlos plays with a lot of adrenaline and momentum.
He is aggressive and practically unstoppable if he finds the range. He has the level to beat every player in the world, including Novak," Rafael Nadal said.
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