Alcaraz beats Djokovic in thriller to reach Madrid final

MADRID, Spain, May 7Carlos Alcaraz became the first player to beat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament on clay as he stormed into the Madrid Open final on Saturday.

The 19-year-old Spaniard reached his second ATP Masters final in five weeks and picked up his first-ever victory against a reigning world number one, beating Djokovic 6-7 (5/7), 7-5, 7-6 ( 7/5) in front of a sold-out crowd at the Caja Magica.

Alcaraz now hold seven top-10 wins this season and enter Sunday’s final – against Stefanos Tsitsipas or defending champion Alexander Zverev – with a nine-game winning streak, having triumphed in Barcelona a few weeks ago.

He is the youngest player to beat a world number one in 17 years.

A calm and collected Alcaraz kicked off the game with a break of serve, thanks to a well-timed cross backhand shot, and quickly took a 3-1 lead over the top seed.

Djokovic, who turns 35 this month, fought back to draw 4-4 as the set deservedly ended in a tie-break.

A fiery Djokovic took a 5-1 advantage in the breaker and quickly got his hands on four set points.

Alcaraz saved the first with an aggressive return and another with an ace. Perfect cushioning saved the Spaniard a third set point to reduce the deficit to 5-6, but Djokovic closed the set on his fourth chance after 62 minutes.

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The players were neck and neck in the second set until Alcaraz upped the ante in game 12, winning key battles at net and using his cushioning perfectly when he needed it.

The Murcia native claimed a break and the set with a sensational shot, dropping a Djokovic dropper and hitting a winner from outside the doubles lane.

– Djokovic cuts his hand –

Novak Djokovic needed medical attention in the third set © AFP / Pierre-Philippe MARCOU

Djokovic fended off three break points on his serve in the decider’s fourth game, digging deep for a 2-2 hold.

The world number one fell to the ground in the following game and needed medical attention for an open injury to his right hand. Two more break points came and went for Alcaraz on his opponent’s serve as Djokovic fought to hold 3-3.

It was Djokovic’s turn to put pressure on Alcaraz’s serve, but the seventh seed managed to avoid a break point to hold in game seven.

The crowd went wild as Alcaraz blasted a forehand winner to get their first match point. Djokovic responded with an ace of steel and dug deep to level 5-5.

It all came down to a final set tie-break and the Caja Magica was shaking with chants of “si se puede” (Yes you can). Alcaraz drew first blood, opening a 4-2 gap.

Djokovic saved a second match point for 5-6 but Alcaraz were lucky for the third time, securing a win in three hours and 35 minutes with another forehand winner – his 35th of the game.

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