What a difference a year has made in Carlos Alcaraz’s life.
A year after winning just three games in a second-round loss to Rafael Nadal at the 2021 Mutua Madrid Open. The 19-year-old phenom exacted revenge on his compatriot on Friday at the ATP Masters 1000 event in the Spanish city with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory.
In a two-hour-and-twenty-nine-minute match, Alcaraz prevailed despite a typical Nadal comeback and a devastating second-set fall on the clay of Madrid. The victory propels the Spaniard to No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, and he will now face another ATP Tour icon. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.
“It means a great deal to me, “Alcaraz commented after the match. “Today, I am rewarded for the daily effort I’ve put forth. To defeat Rafa, the greatest clay-court player in history, means a great deal to me.”
Breaking into the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and won his first Masters 1000 title in Miami in March. Has been the crowning achievement of Alcaraz’s stellar 2022 campaign thus far. Also, a victory over Nadal would be yet another milestone for the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion. He exhibited a combination of wisdom and youthful excitement to defeat Nadal, becoming the first teenager to defeat the 35-year-old on clay.
Nadal pushed hard to match Alcaraz’s ability and intensity in the first set, striking 19 winners
Despite the fact that Nadal immediately broke back after losing serve in the first game of the match. Alcaraz won the first set in Manolo Santana Stadium due to a combination of massive baseline hitting and deft drop shots.
Despite his opponent’s strong start, the 36-time Masters 1000 champion Nadal remained calm, and his return game began to flourish when he detected a decline in Alcaraz’s quality.
Alcaraz recovered 0/40 to hold for 1-1 in the second set before slipping in the following game and injuring his ankle. As Alcaraz struggled to reclaim his early momentum. Nadal’s superior hitting earned him 20 of the remaining 22 points of the set to tieștiin.
Nadal appeared to have the advantage as he pursued a 12th semi-final appearance in Madrid. But his younger opponent displayed resiliency that would have pleased the 21-time Grand Slam champion. In the fourth game of the decisive set, a revitalized Alcaraz smashed the ball with authority to earn the lone break and advance to the Madrid semifinals for the first time.
Alcaraz’s initial Conversion and Steal stats showed his dominance
When the 19-year-old was in charge of rallies, he consistently prevailed, winning 74% of points after assuming offensive positions. Alcaraz also won 61 percent of the set’s points from defensive positions despite Nadal’s attempts at a comeback.
Despite looking to suffer physically after losing the second set, Alcaraz never stopped believing he could win. “It profoundly affected me, “added the Spanish man. “When I dropped the second set, I believed I could come back, do my best, give it my all on the court, and fight until the final ball. It was crucial.”
With this victory, Alcaraz advances to his third Masters 1000 semifinal and extends his winning streak against Top 10 opponents to five.