One of the most promising tennis players in the world, Carlos Alcaraz, defeated his star compatriot Rafael Nadal for the first time. The king of soil retreated before his heir, and even in Madrid!
Clay “Masters” in Madrid brought together almost all the strongest representatives of men’s tennis, who are now in the clip. Only Daniil Medvedev is missing. Recall that the Russian after Miami decided to take care of his health. He had surgery to remove the hernia and is currently in recovery.
A couple of weeks ago, Daniil started training on the court, and on hard. But now he is already on the ground. And then a message came from the camp of Medvedev that he asked for a wild card for the ATP-250 tournament in Geneva, which precedes Roland Garros. So, apparently, the best tennis player in Russia seriously intends to show all his skills in Paris.
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In Madrid, all attention is riveted for the most part to Djokovic and Nadal. The Serbian is gradually gaining shape. At the home tournament in Belgrade, he managed to reach the final, but lost there to the Russian Andrey Rublev. But Nadal is just opening the clay season, and Madrid is the first on his schedule. Both of these eminent tennis players won more than once in the capital of Spain – Djokovic three times, and Nadal five times. And when the competition grid appeared, many experts, journalists and fans began to wait for the 1/2 final between Djokovic and Nadal. But everyone still had to reach it.
However, the path of Djokovic in Madrid to the semi-finals turned out, one might say, facilitated. The Serb, as a highly seeded one, missed the first round, and in the second round he was challenged by the “client” Gael Monfils, who had lost all 17 face-to-face meetings so far. The Frenchman did not break the “tradition” and lost in the next match (3:6, 2:6), thanks to which the ATP record was set for the largest score of personal fights in which one of the opponents could not win anything – 18-0 . Djokovic’s opponent, Briton Andy Murray, did not come out to the meeting of the 3rd round, citing illness. Well, in the 1/4 finals, Novak confidently coped with the Pole Hubert Hurkacz – 6:3, 6:4.
Rafael Nadal, who has not played for a month and a half since the final in Indian Wells, where he lost to American Taylor Fritz, missed the Masters in Miami and Monte Carlo, as well as the ATP-500 in Barcelona. The Spaniard won the starting match in Madrid with Miomir Kecmanovic in two sets – 6:1, 7:6 (7:4), but in the 3rd round he had a very difficult time with the Belgian qualifier David Goffin. Rafa missed two match points in the second set, then on the tie-break of the third he saved himself from 4 match points and still put the squeeze on his opponent – 6:3, 5:7, 7:6 (11:9) in 3 hours and 13 minutes. Note that Nadal found time during the tournament to strike the first ball before the championship match of his favorite football club Real Madrid.
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Nadal’s rival in the 1/4 finals, to the delight of the Spanish public, was Carlos Alcaraz, who is called nothing more than the heir to the King of Clay. On the day when the match for reaching the 1/4 finals took place, Carlos turned 19 years old. By this age, he has achieved almost the same results and success as Nadal by the age of 19. There is no more promising tennis player in the world now than Alcaraz! He has already broken into the top 10 of the rankings, won the Masters in Miami, and then excelled in one of the most successful tournaments for Nadal in Barcelona. In addition, before the start of Madrid, the young Spaniard already had a solid collection of victories over the current top ten tennis players – eight.
Carlos Alcaraz as a child
Photo: From the personal archive of the tennis player
Nadal and Alcaraz have met twice before, and in both cases the more experienced Rafa excelled – 6:1, 6:2 in Madrid 2021 and 6:4, 4:6, 6:3 in the semi-finals of Indian Wells 2022. All the more curious were the words of Rafael, spoken before their 3rd fight: “I think now he is better than me. He demonstrates good dynamics and is in a better psychological state. He is younger and has extra energy. I can clearly see who will have the advantage in the match.” To which Alcaraz himself objected: “Rafa is the best clay player in the world, even if he says that I am the favorite, that he himself is not ready enough. Rafa should always be considered the favorite here, as he took the title five times here.
Here is the master! 18-year-old Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz won in Miami and took $ 1.2 million
The beginning of the match showed that Nadal knowingly feared his young opponent, who had gained amazing form. It was Alcaraz who first raised the pace in the draws and immediately achieved a break. Rafa immediately clung to someone else’s serve and, having made incredible efforts, achieved a reverse break – 1:1.
But the balance did not last long. In the 3rd game, Carlos again caught Nadal making mistakes. It was clear that after all Rafa did not have time to recover from a difficult match with Goffin the day before, a younger opponent drove him and achieved another break – 2:1. After that, the tennis players confidently kept their serves, but at the end of the game, Alcaraz took another someone else’s serve and took the set – 6:2 in 48 minutes.
Nadal and Alcaraz during a photo shoot before the match
Photo: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
In the second set, Nadal came out more determined. He confidently took his game and then almost made a break. However, later, with the score 1:1 in one of the draws, Alcaraz unsuccessfully reached for the ball, fell and twisted his right ankle. At the crossing, doctors helped the young Spaniard. The directors of the broadcast showed the audience an impressive abrasion. After that, Alcaraz’s game fell apart. He could not give, not take. It was evident that it was either difficult for him to move around the court, or he could not concentrate. Here, another break related to helping one of the spectators in the stands may have also affected. As a result, Rafael won the 2nd set with a score of 6:1.
“When I breathed, I felt pain.” Rafael Nadal lost for the first time this season
During the break between sets, Carlos went to the locker room, changed clothes and went to the court already quite fresh. He confidently took the starting game on his pitch, then again clearly otpodada – 2:1. And after the transition, he took Nadal’s serve to zero – 3:1. And no matter how hard Rafa then tried, he was no longer able to recoup – 6:2, 1:6, 6:3 in 2 hours and 17 minutes.
So only the Spaniard Carlos Alcaras, who celebrated his 19th birthday, inflicted a painful defeat on the 5-time Masters champion in Madrid, Rafael Nadal. The young tennis player has already made it to the 1/2 finals, preventing the 59th Nadal-Djokovic duel from taking place. Let’s see how Alcaraz will show himself in the fight against the 1st racket of the world and the reigning champion Roland Garros.