The Manolo Santana Stadium sang Happy Birthday to Carlos Alcaraz and he responded with a solid win over Cameron Norrie. The Spaniard turned 19 on Thursday and he celebrated by reaching his first Mutua Madrid Open quarter-final. Now he will face Rafael Nadal on the same stage where the two clashed one year ago, when he reached adulthood.
The No. 9 in the ATP Ranking beat the Briton in three sets (6-4, 6-7, 6-3) after two hours and 39 minutes of play to beat his best in the Caja Mágica, where he will now play against his compatriot and third seed, not before four O’clock in the afternoon, at the twentieth anniversary of the #MMOPEN.
Alcaraz dominated early with a break in the fourth game (3-1), which Norrie recovered in the ninth (5-4). The Briton was unable to consolidate though and the seventh seed notched up a first set that lasted 56 minutes.
The Johannesburg-born player managed to take the clash to a decider after another long set (62 minutes). The man from Murcia found himself a break down (2-3), but Norrie again failed to consolidate on his own serve (3-3). The rest of the set went with serve and the Briton tipped the balance in his favour in the tiebreak.
One break in the first game and another in the ninth was enough for Alcaraz to claim the decider and a place among the last eight in the Caja Mágica. His only stumbling block came in the sixth game, when he had to fend off two break-back points.
⚔️ “Va a ser un partido totalmente diferente”
💪 Un año más tarde volverán a verse las caras en cuartos de final. pic.twitter.com/43If0TQYfi
— #MMOPEN (@MutuaMadridOpen) May 5, 2022
As soon as the match was over, the Manolo Santana Stadium congratulated Alcaraz again with a cake for his nineteenth birthday. “Thank you so much, everyone, for the surprise. I feel so fortunate to have experiences like this. Last year I left with a defeat and this time I am winning and listening to Happy Birthday”, he said to the fans.
Regarding the match, the player from El Palmar mentioned how tough it is playing Norrie. “Everyone knows him now. He is awkward to play against. He has a flat backhand, and with his forehand he changes height and fights till the final point. To beat him you have to hit three or four very good shots and be more aggressive than he is”, he explained.
In the quarters, Alcaraz and Nadal will face each other for the third time. So far the Mallorcan dominates their head-to-head with his wins at last year’s #MMOPEN (6-1, 6-2) and this season in the semi-finals of the Masters 1000 in Indian Wells (6-4, 4-6, 6-3). “I’m going to enjoy tomorrow’s match to the max. I’ve lost twice, but I hope it will be third time lucky. I’ll fight until the end”, he concluded.