Carlos Alcaraz makes tennis history in never-before-seen Nadal feat

Carlos Alcaraz, pictured here after becoming the first teenager to beat Rafa Nadal on clay.
Carlos Alcaraz became the first teenager to beat Rafa Nadal on clay. Image: Getty

Carlos Alcaraz has become the first teenager to beat Rafa Nadal on clay and the youngest semi-finalist at the Madrid Open ever after a stunning victory on Friday.

In a clash of generations, the Spanish teenager overcame injury to defeat his idol 6-2 1-6 6-3 in what had all the feel of a changing-of-the-guard moment in Madrid.

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The 19-year-old Alcaraz recovered from a bad ankle twist early in the second set to earn his first victory against the 21-time grand slam champion in Friday's quarter-final.

The youngster, considered by many in Spain as Nadal's successor, will next play his first Madrid semi-final against top-ranked Novak Djokovic - who earlier eased past Hubert Hurkacz 6-3 6-4.

It was Nadal's first loss to a Spaniard in six years after last losing to Fernando Verdasco at the 2016 Australian Open.

"It means a lot to me, all the hard work that I put in every day paid off today to beat Rafa, beat the best player in history on clay, it means a lot to me," said Alcaraz, who is also the first teenager to beat Nadal on a clay court.

"It affected me a lot the fall in the second set but when I lost the second, I went to the bathroom and I believed I was able to get back, I was able to do my best, try everything on court, fight until the last ball and I think it was the key."

Alcaraz entered the contest with an 0-2 record against Nadal, but the 35-year-old arrived in Madrid with little to no preparation on clay after six weeks nursing a rib injury.

The 19-year-old completed the win in two hours and 28 minutes and set up a blockbuster clash with Djokovic.

"I will text (David) Nalbandian to see how he did it. I will fight and let's see what happens tomorrow," joked Alcaraz, referring to Nalbandian's famous triumphs over Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer on his way to the Madrid title in 2007.

Carlos Alcaraz, pictured here in disbelief after beating Rafa Nadal.
Carlos Alcaraz looks on in disbelief after beating Rafa Nadal. (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Carlos Alcaraz sets up Novak Djokovic clash

Djokovic earlier advanced to his seventh Madrid semi-final, easing past Hurkacz to record a 30th career victory in the Spanish capital.

The World No.1 will face Alcaraz for the first time and heaped praise on the young Spaniard, having spent some time with him practising earlier this week.

"I love to watch him play, as a lot of other players on the tour. He's fantastic for our sport, no doubt," Djokovic said.

"I think it's great that we have a young player who is doing so well and giving a new fresh breath to the tennis world.

"Seeing that and knowing that he's a very nice guy, very humble with good values, is a perfect combination."

Hurkacz saved two match points on his own serve at 5-3 in the second set, forcing Djokovic to serve out the 81-minute victory.

The Serbian star hasn't played much in 2022 as his vaccination status has prevented him from playing in Australia or entering the United States.

His win on Friday was just his seventh of the year.

He'll be trying to make a second final of the season, having lost in the final of the Serbia Open last month.

Tennis fans and commentators took to social media in awe of Alcaraz's display and looking forward to the Djokovic showdown.

with agencies

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