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Mutua Madrid Open: Hurricane Alcaraz Also Takes Djokovic Ahead

A day after beating Nadal, the Murcian won 6-7 (5), 7-5 and 7-6 (5) and will play his second Masters 1000 final. He will face Alexander Zverev, defending champion, who beat Tsitsipas in three sets.

Caught up in the enthusiasm of the fans, unleashed, faithful to his intrepid character and a reckless point, Carlos Alcaraz finished with Novak Djokovic one day after doing it with Rafael Nadal. No one had managed to beat both players on clay in the same tournament. Determined to defy all statistics, with an iron fist and a silken hand, the Spaniard became the second youngest tennis player in the professional era to pass over a number 1, after Nadal did, when he beat Federer in the semifinals of Roland Garros 2005, on his nineteenth birthday. Coming from behind, after losing a first set in which his irregularity was penalized, he took the three-time champion of the tournament ahead, beating him 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), in three hours and 35 minutes, to become the youngest player to reach the final in Madrid.

Unlike two weeks ago in Belgrade, when he lost 6-0 in the third set of the final against Andrey Rublev, Djokovic resisted this time as he had not been seen for several months. His attitude and his level of play do nothing but revalue the Spanish's victory. Champion this year in Miami, Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona, ​​Alcaraz will seek this Sunday (18:30 La 1) against Alexander Zverev, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6 and 6-2, the fifth title of his career, whose list of winners was inaugurated last summer in Umag. The German, who has never lost on the Manolo Santana court, has beaten Alcaraz in their two clashes, both in 2021 and on fast surfaces. He is number three in the world, as well as two-time champion of the tournament.

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In a frenetic match, Alcaraz showed his extraordinary determination and the intelligence to correct mistakes on the fly. He had his first match point in the tenth game of the third set, but he was not sorry that it escaped him and took advantage of the third, already in the tiebreak, to blow up the crowd that filled the Manolo Santana court. "My grandfather always told me head, heart and balls. And that's what I try to do," he commented at the foot of the track for Teledeporte.

NO PHYSICAL PROBLEMS

He came out with a protective strap on his right leg, which was damaged against Nadal in the third game of the second set, but did not suffer throughout the match. As happened against the Spaniard, he began by breaking his rival's serve, and this time he was able to maintain the advantage until the eighth game, when the Balkan broke back. It was a nice game, even more so than the quarterfinals.

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More tempered and expert, Nole was taking the temperature of Alcaraz's game in the first set. It was almost announced that he would recover the serve from him, because threats followed one another in different games until he converted the third opportunity, thanks to a setback to the Spanish net. The world number 1 adjusted his position in the returns and found a wasteland when it came to serving, chaining 21 consecutive points with the serve.

Alcaraz lost his temper on more than one occasion, but managed to reach the tiebreaker and unleash a crowd that pushed him from the first ball. The decisive game of the first set compressed what he had been doing throughout the set. The succession of errors left him in a frankly adverse situation, with 6-2 for Djokovic. It was there, on the edge of the canvas, when he took a backhand return winner on second service, a direct serve and a backhand drop with which he went to 6-5. An intense rally in which he slipped ended with a backhand to the net and the set for Nole, whose explicit celebration was not liked by some of the fans.

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The winner of 20 Grand Slam titles maintains an ascending line. He already looked fine in his quarterfinal match against Hurkacz and, faced with a greater demand, he had moments that had been forgotten in this conditioned course since the scandalous episode of the Australian Open.

Alcaraz far from faded after the first set. He competed better in return games by delaying his position, holding a ball for 4-2 and serve, and successfully insisted on his repertoire of dropshots, until breaking Djokovic's spirits. The one from Belgrade, however, also had his options, in the ninth game and in the eleventh, suffocated with an open service and a drop. It was Alcaraz who converted the second of his three set points, again from a drop goal.

As it should not be otherwise in a match like this, it was decided in a new tiebreaker, with Alcaraz much more focused and a Djokovic who could no longer contain him. He neutralized five break points before reaching the tie break, but he was facing an unstoppable hurricane, which he too could not stop.

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