The opportunity was ideal and he did not miss it. A year almost to the day after receiving the lesson of Rafael Nadal on this same Madrid soil, Carlos Alcaraz took a resounding revenge on his glorious elder, whom he beat for the first time in his young career and on his third try. . The 19-year-old prodigy evolved at an often hair-raising level to gain the upper hand over the Majorcan in three sets (6-2, 1-6, 6-3) and almost two and a half hours (2:29 precisely) in the quarter-finals of the Spanish Masters 1000. In the last four, he will tackle another monument: world number 1 Novak Djokovic.
He only doubted for half an hour. The one that followed his fall on the ocher of the Manolo Santana court when he was at the end of the forehand side at the start of the second round. But Carlos Alcaraz let the storm pass, overcame his apprehension and started again. Aware that he was facing a Rafael Nadal still lacking benchmarks for his recovery tournament, the Murcian pulled out of his hat the performance he needed to bring down the idol. It has thus taken a new fundamental step in its irresistible rise in 2022.
Alcaraz, a golden opportunity to seize? “Rafa has a thousand lives”
20 HOURS AGO
Alcaraz drunk Nadal with blows
From the start, he had sent quite a message. With a forehand offset missile, Alcaraz started with a break, raising an angry fist towards the crowd. This founding act launched an intense sequence during which the two Spaniards went blow for blow for a good quarter of an hour and three games. Unbroken immediately, the Murcian did not change his course of action: exploiting each short ball to drive his elder, whether backhand along the line or uncrossed forehand. And by seizing the opposing service again (thus three consecutive breaks and 2-1 on the scoreboard), he imposed his will on his opponent.
Murderous cushioning, crazy angles and cannon fire: Alcaraz on fire for the double-break
From then on, the Spanish spectators of the Caja Magica attended a festival: phenomenal power in its permanent assaults, stunning lucidity in its use of cushioning and magnificent skill in its on-the-fly sequences, Alcaraz turned crazy Nadal. If we had to remember one game from this part, it would be the one that allowed him to make the double break: a little gem. At the end of this first set of anthology, he thus had 19 winning strokes against… only 2 for the Majorcan (37 to 10 on the match).
A hair-raising finale after being very scared
But by locking his ankle at 6-2, 1-2, he thought he was losing everything. Less mobile with his strap, unable to engage as he did, he saw the games go by. And after the loss of the second set, he left the court for a few minutes. Would he come back or give up? The question was legitimate. Back, stripped of his bandage, he found himself under pressure at 6-2, 1-6, 1-1, 15/30 on his serve. Smelling blood as an experienced predator, Nadal unleashed a cross-back missile that would have given him two break points against 99% of the players. But in the same position as when he fell, Alcaraz pulled a magic long line passing out of his hat.
This fantastic move marked his return to the fight. Electrified, he then started walking again on his elder, breaking white from the next game. Impeccable thereafter on his service, he even allowed himself to conclude on a sublime point and final passing of forehand deposited in the skylight. Until the end, he will have had the keys in this part against a Nadal still too fair but catchy. No one has beaten the Mallorcan and Djokovic in a row on clay: now is the new challenge that awaits him.
Quite a symbol: Alcaraz’s “Nadal” defense to conclude his feat
On the edge of the abyss, Nadal has (again) escaped
YESTERDAY AT 5:40 PM
Nadal, reassured and ready to continue: “This victory is very important”
YESTERDAY AT 8:45 PM