The list of victims of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz keeps growing.
And so does the hype over tennis’ newest sensation.
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After defeating his idol Nadal in the quarterfinals, the 19-year-old Alcaraz rallied to beat top-ranked Djokovic 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) after more than three-and-a-half hours to reach the Madrid Open men’s single final.“It was one of those matches to enjoy,” Alcaraz said.
“Despite the tension, despite being the semi finals, being 7-6 in the third-set tiebreaker… I’ve enjoyed it. Until the last point I was being able to smile.”
In the women’s final, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia won her biggest career title by defeating Jessica Pegula of the US in three sets.
Jabeur, the first Arab woman in the top 10, won 7-5, 0-6, 6-3 for her second career title.
Pegula, a one-time tour winner, will reach a career-high No.11 ranking on Monday.
Alcaraz became the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic at the same clay-court event.
He converted his third match point in front of a raucous home crowd on the Caja Magica center court.
“It’s a spectacular feeling right now,” Alcaraz said.
“I’m very excited to be able to play these kind of matches, to be able to beat Rafa yesterday, to be able to beat the No.1 today.”
A win on Monday (AEST) would give Alcaraz his fourth title this season, the most of any player.
He will face defending champion Alexander Zverev, who defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. The second-seeded German player converted three of his five break opportunities to clinch the victory in nearly two hours in a match that ended after 1am local time.
Zverev is now 19-2 in Madrid, where he also won the title in 2018.
“This is my favorite court in the world,” Zverev said. “This is the Caja Magica and it is doing magic for me because I came into this tournament playing really bad. I was not very confident I didn’t win a lot of matches this year but this court brings something out of me.”
The fourth-seeded Tsitsipas had beaten Zverev in the Monte Carlo semi finals earlier this year.
Alcaraz lost both matches he played against Zverev, all last year on hard courts.
“I know 99.999 per cent of the people will be against me tomorrow but this is completely fine,” Zverev said with a smile.
“I’m still thankful that you guys are here at 1.10am. It’s going to be a fun match tomorrow.”
Zverev returned to the empty center court after his match to practice his service.