“Third time’s the charm,” Carlos Alcaraz had said on Thursday after beating Cameron Norrie in the round of 16 at the Mutua Madrid Open when asked about his duel in the quarterfinals against Rafa Nadal. So it was. The 19-year-old from Murcia, fulfilled precisely that day, could with the mirror of him (almost 36), with the tennis player whom he idolizes and whom he intends to emulate as far as he can. He did it despite suffering a spectacular ankle sprain (right) midway through the second set. In the fall, which he tried to break with his (right) hand, he hurt his thumb. With that handicap he won 6-2, 1-6 and 6-3 in 2h28 against the Balearic Islands, who before facing him had given him the role of favorite, due to the short preparation with which he faced the tournament due to the injury costal that he had in his previous meeting, in Indian Wells, a month and a half ago.
“Without a doubt, it was the most emotionally difficult match of my career. Playing against Rafa is complicated, even more so for me, because I’ve always said he’s my idol”, explained the winner. Carlos cannot be detracted from, as he will be the first player under the age of 20 to beat Nadal on clay. The mark of the manacorí against teenagers it was 20-0 so far. But the two were not in the same condition. Although perhaps the mishap of the kid during the meeting equalized things a bit in that sense. Be that as it may, he will deservedly face Novak Djokovic on Saturday (not before 4:00 p.m., La 1 and Movistar), in a new long-awaited face-to-face against the world number one.
It is too early to talk about relief or sorpasso, due to the greatness of Nadal, who is still capable of pursuing great goals. However, it cannot be denied that Alcaraz is already present and that it will not be easy for the winner of 21 Grand Slams to beat him, as he did on the same stage a year and a day ago, from a moment that in the short or medium term it can be exchange. “It’s a relay, that’s obvious, but we’ll have to see if today or in a few months,” he acknowledged.
Details of a feat
Carlitos is the youngest semifinalist in the history of Mutua. He has, at the moment, the same victories, 26, as the best of the course in that section, Stefanos Tsitsipas. And he is the second tennis player to knock Nadal down in 2022, after Taylor Fritz. Rafa had 25 wins in a row against Spaniards, since Fernando Verdasco defeated him at the Australian Open in 2016. This is Alcaraz’s fifth consecutive win against a top-10 and the ninth in total. And add, with this, three Masters 1,000 semifinals in the last four. He provisionally rises to sixth place in the ranking and secures second in the race to the ATP Finals. These are some of the data that illustrate the importance of what the prodigy of El Palmar has achieved, who has an indomitable character. “After bending my ankle, thinking ‘oh my goodness, I’ve bent it against Rafa’, it doesn’t help you. In the locker room I said that since I was not going to retire, I had to give everything on the track,” he revealed.
The match, it cannot be ignored, was not as good as expected. It had generated a lot of expectation, but the circumstances tarnished it. Alcaraz’s momentary injury ruined the second set and the fainting of a spectator in the stands, who had him standing for 20 minutes, did not help either (He left the Manolo Santana stadium on his own feet). But details were seen, especially by Carlos, who closed his victory with a tremendous passer and almost quadrupled in winning shots to Nadal (37-10) and committed 31 unforced errors, 19 less than against Norrie. He has crossed off his wish list, one of the most important, to win his mirror. And she has no roof.
Results of the Mutua Madrid Open ATP