Alcaraz Beats Djokovic to Reach Madrid Open Final

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
May 7, 2022 Updated: May 8, 2022

MADRID—Rafael Nadal one day. Novak Djokovic the other.

The list of victims of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz keeps growing.

And so does the hype over tennis’ newest sensation.

After defeating his idol Nadal in the quarterfinals on Friday, the 19-year-old Alcaraz rallied to beat top-ranked Djokovic 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) after more than 3 1/2 hours on Saturday to reach the Madrid Open final.

Spain Tennis
Novak Djokovic (L) shakes hands with Carlos Alcaraz at the end of a men’s semifinal at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, May 7, 2022. (Manu Fernandez/AP Photo)

“It was one of those matches to enjoy,” Alcaraz said. “Despite the tension, despite being the semifinals of a Masters 1000, being 7-6 in the third-set tiebreaker … I’ve enjoyed it. Until the last point I was being able to smile.”

Alcaraz converted on his third match point to clinch the victory—his 27th of the year—in front of a raucous home crowd on the Caja Mágica center court.

“To play against the No. 1 player in the world, in front of this crowd here in Madrid, it’s incredible,” he said.

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic reacts during a men’s semifinal match against Carlos Alcaraz at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, May 7, 2022. (Manu Fernandez/AP Photo)
Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz celebrates after defeating Novak Djokovic during a men’s semifinal at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, May 7, 2022. (Manu Fernandez/AP Photo)

A win on Sunday will give Alcaraz his fourth title this season, the most of any player.

He will face defending champion Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsitsipas, who met in the late semifinal on Saturday.

Alcaraz, the youngest player in the top 10 since Nadal in 2005, has won this year in Miami, Rio de Janeiro, and Barcelona.

He beat Nadal for the first time on Friday, and triumphed against Djokovic in their first match.

Djokovic remains without a title this season as he continues to try to regain his best form going into his title defense at the French Open this month.

Alcaraz, the youngest ever to reach the Madrid semifinals, took an early lead in the first set but Djokovic rallied.

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz reacts after winning a point to Novak Djokovic during a men’s semifinal at the Mutua Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, May 7, 2022. (Manu Fernandez/AP Photo)

The Spaniard took the second set after Djokovic wasted three break opportunities to serve for the match, and kept the pressure on during the third until finally capitalizing on one of his many chances in the tiebreaker.

The match winner came was one of Alcaraz’s more than 30 forehand winners that kept Djokovic on the defensive throughout. Alcaraz had 51 winners to Djokovic’s 24.

“It was so close,” Alcaraz said.” He had the chance to break my serve at the end of the second set. In the first set as well it was so close in the tiebreak. Honestly, I don’t know what made the difference.”

Djokovic praised Alcaraz after arriving in Madrid this week and said his son had already replaced Nadal with the young Spaniard as his favorite player.

Ons Jabeur of Tunisia faced Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in the women’s final late Saturday.

By Tales Azzoni