MADRID (AP) — Rafael Nadal one day. Novak Djokovic the other.
The list of victims of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz continues to grow.
And so is the hype surrounding the new tennis sensation.
After beating his idol Nadal in the quarter-finals on Friday, 19-year-old Alcaraz rallied to beat top-ranked Djokovic 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) after more than 3 hours and a half. Saturday to reach the final of the Madrid Open.
“It was one of those games to enjoy,” Alcaraz said. “Despite the tension, despite being in the semi-finals of a Masters 1000, being 7-6 in the third set tiebreaker… I enjoyed it. Until the last point, I could to smile.
Alcaraz converted their third match point to claim victory – their 27th of the year – in front of a raucous crowd on center court at Caja Mágica.
“To play against the world No.1 player, in front of this audience here in Madrid, is incredible,” he said.
A victory on Sunday will give Alcaraz their fourth title this season, the best of any player.
He will face defending champion Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsitsipas, who met in the semi-finals late 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 over Djokovic in their opener.
Djokovic remains without a title this season as he continues to try to regain his best form ahead of defending his title at Roland Garros this month.
Alcaraz, Madrid’s youngest to reach the semi-finals, took an early lead in the opening set but Djokovic rallied.
The Spaniard took the second set after Djokovic wasted three break chances to serve for the match, and kept the pressure on through the third until finally capitalizing on one of his many chances in the tiebreaker .
The match winner was one of more than 30 Alcaraz forehand winners who kept Djokovic on the defensive throughout. Alcaraz had 51 winners against 24 for Djokovic.
“It was so close,” Alcaraz said. “He had chances to break my serve at the end of the second set. In the first set too, it was so tight in the tie-break. Honestly, I don’t know what made the difference.
Djokovic praised Alcaraz after joining 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 United States in the women’s final on Saturday night.
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