When Carlos Alcaraz played in his first Madrid Open as an 18-year-old, his goal was to gain experience and learn from the top players.
Only a year later, Alcaraz already feels he belongs among the best.
The Spanish teenage sensation capped another impressive week, with a straight-sets victory over Alexander Zverev on Sunday to win the Madrid Open and become the second-youngest player to win two Masters 1000 titles.
His comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over Zverev followed victories over his idol, Rafael Nadal, in the quarter-finals and top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.
“Last year, I was going through these experiences for the first time, playing against the best players, playing in the Masters 1000, and I learned a lot,” Alcaraz said.
“Now it’s different. I go onto the court knowing that I can win, with the confidence that I can win at any moment.”
Alcaraz became the youngest winner in Madrid, and the second-youngest to win two Masters 1000 trophies after Nadal won in Monte Carlo and Rome in 2005.
It was Alcaraz’s seventh straight win over a top-10 player, and his tour-leading fourth title of the year after victories in Rio de Janeiro, Miami and Barcelona. He also has the most wins this season, with 28, one more than Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Zverev praises the victor but gives scheduling a serve
Germany’s Zverev was trying to win his second consecutive Madrid title, and third overall. He had only praise for Alcaraz after the match.
“Right now you are the best player in the world,” Zverev said before the trophy ceremony and joked about his opponent’s age.
The jokes ended after the ceremony, however, as Zverev criticized the organisers for the scheduling of his matches.
“The scheduling needs to be done better… Yesterday I started my match at 11pm. I played three sets. Finished at 1:30,” Zverev told reporters.
“Until I get back to the hotel, until I eat, until I do my work with the physio because I have to prepare my body for the next day, it’s 5am.
“If you stay up until 4-5am, the next day you are tired. If you do it two nights in a row, you are completely dead. You are destroyed, you will not be able to do physical activity at a maximum level. “
Zverev — who was the defending champion in Madrid — said he was upset as the final had lost its sheen as a result since fans expected an even contest, even though the majority were rooting for the Spaniard Alcaraz.
While Alcaraz won his first Masters 1000 tournament in Miami earlier this year, he has since won in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona. His first career title came in Umag last year.