'Incredible': Carlos Alcaraz makes tennis history in Novak Djokovic epic
The tennis world has been left awe-struck after teen sensation Carlos Alcaraz continued his giant-killing run to clinch an extraordinary piece of history at the Madrid Open.
A day after downing Rafael Nadal, the 19-year-old Spaniard booked a place in the Madrid final by beating World No.1 Novak Djokovic 6-7 (5/7) 7-5 7-6 (7/5) in a pulsating encounter in front of a packed Caja Magica centre court.
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Victory meant Alcaraz became the first man in history to beat Nadal and Djokovic at the same tournament on clay.
Alcaraz - who has a tour-best seven wins over top-10 players this season - is also the youngest player in 17 years to defeat a current World No.1.
After defeating his idol Nadal in the quarter-finals, the 19-year-old Alcaraz rallied to beat top-ranked Djokovic after more than three-and-a-half engrossing hours.
Alcaraz converted on his third match point to clinch the victory in front of a raucous home crowd, roaring in delight after clinching the match with a booming forehand winner.
The first man EVER to beat Nadal & Djokovic back-to-back on clay!@alcarazcarlos03 | @MutuaMadridOpen | #MMOPEN pic.twitter.com/D9WCMFGrKR
— ATP Tour (@atptour) May 7, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz beats #1 Novak Djokovic in an epic 3h36 battle, 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) to reach the final in Madrid.
He is the first EVER player to beat Nadal and Djokovic in the same clay court tournament.
He is 19 years and two days old.
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) May 7, 2022
Beating Nadal and Djokovic in the same clay court tournament?
Literally nobody had ever done it.
— The Tennis Podcast (@TennisPodcast) May 7, 2022
The first one to ever defeat Nadal and Djokovic back to back on clay 🔥 #MMOPEN pic.twitter.com/17wUV58DrV
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 7, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz is going to be an all time great and we’re seeing him rise to the top at 19 years old right now. It’s scary
The kid is beyond special
— Eric Hubbs (@BarstoolHubbs) May 7, 2022
Absolutely love Carlos Alcaraz’s game. Brutal forehand, great movement, wicked lobs, loves to get forward,has great touch. Incredible talent.
The kid is destined for tennis greatness.💯
We're watching a future great here. This guy is a real deal. #MadridOpen pic.twitter.com/xOriuyeDGk
— Shivang (@sr02__fcb248) May 7, 2022
THERE. IS. NO. ESCAPE. FROM. ALCARAZ. @alcarazcarlos03 defeats Nadal & Djokovic BACK-TO-BACK to make a first #MMOPEN final 🤯 pic.twitter.com/Ic7JRZ4LGB
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) May 7, 2022
A win in the final will give Alcaraz his fourth title this season, the most of any player on the circuit.
He will face the winner of the other semi-final between defending champion Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Asked if he sees a limit to what he can achieve, Alcaraz said: "I don't think so. Tomorrow I will go for the final as I did in Miami. I'm really happy to be able to play a second Masters 1000 final.
"I would say that I feel ready to compete against them (the top players) in every single tournament, in every single surface," added the Miami champion.
Carlos Alcaraz sees off dogged Novak Djokovic
A calm and collected Alcaraz kicked off the match with a service break, thanks to a well-timed cross-court backhand passing shot. He was soon up 3-1 on the top seed.
Djokovic, who turns 35 this month, struck back to draw level at 4-4 as the set went to a tie-break.
A fired-up Djokovic sped to a 5-1 advantage and soon got his hands on four set points.
Alcaraz saved the first with an aggressive return and another with an ace. The Spaniard saved a third with a spot-on drop shot to narrow his deficit to 5-6 but Djokovic closed out the set on his fourth opportunity after 62 minutes.
The players were neck and neck in the second set, until Alcaraz upped the ante in game 12, winning key battles at the net and perfectly using his drop shot when he needed to.
The Murcia native claimed a break and the set with a sensational get, running down a Djokovic drop shot and hitting a winner from outside the doubles alley.
Djokovic staved off three break points on his serve in game four of the decider, digging deep for a 2-2 hold.
The world number one fell during the next game and needed some medical attention for a wound on his right hand. Two more break points came and went for Alcaraz on his opponent's serve as Djokovic battled to hold for 3-3.
It was Djokovic's turn to put pressure on the Alcaraz serve, but the seventh seed successfully side-stepped a break point to hold in game seven.
The crowd went wild as Alcaraz blasted a forehand winner for his first match point. Djokovic responded with a steely ace and dug deep to level at 5-5.
It all came down to a final-set tie-break and the Caja Magica was shaking with "si se puede" ('Yes you can') chants. Alcaraz drew first blood, opening up a 4-2 gap.
Djokovic saved a second match point for 5-6 but Alcaraz was third time lucky, claiming a statement three-hour 35-minute victory with another forehand winner - his 35th of the match.
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