Carlos Alcaraz enjoyed a magical day at the Mutua Madrid Open. The Murcia-born #NextGenATP star claimed his first victory over Rafael Nadal on Friday, on clay and on the biggest court in Spain, confirming his arrival among the ATP’s elite in style. It was an unforgettable day for a young man who is destined to be one of the best players on tour for many years to come.
“I’m excited, very excited”, admitted Alcaraz with a smile on his face. “Few players can say they’ve beaten Rafa on clay. I feel fortunate to be one of them. Right now, I honestly feel super happy”.
The man from Murcia considers the victory to be one of the biggest triumphs of his career, alongside the win over Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas at last season’s US Open, his first against a top 3 player. After today’s match in the Caja Mágica, he claimed “there are always victories and moments that you’ll never forget and I’ll obviously remember this one for the rest of my life”.
After his supreme victory, however, Alcaraz is not about to rest on his laurels. Far from being carried away by the euphoria that surrounds him, the Spaniard was harsh in analysing his game, looking for areas to improve after a win that practically everyone in the locker room would give their right arm for.
“It was a difficult second set. I twisted my ankle and it was bothering me while we played. That’s not why I played the second set the way I did”, admitted Carlos, who only picked up one game in that set. “I lost concentration, I was thinking about my ankle all the time and not on playing the match. After losing the second set, going to the bathroom helped. I washed my face and told myself “Charly, if you’re not going to withdraw, think about playing and not about your ankle. Don’t think about anything else, think about giving your all until the last point. You can do it’. That’s what helped me pick myself up in the third set, and to come back and play great tennis”.
Now, as he gets deeper into his week in the Caja Mágica, the challenges keep coming. Having overcome that of Nadal, the next man standing in his path will be world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, it will be the first time the two have crossed paths. No player in history has ever beaten the Spaniard and the Serb on clay in consecutive matches. The 19-year-old is halfway to a monumental achievement.
“Djokovic is one of the best players in the history of tennis. Everything he has done for tennis is incredible. It’s admirable. But I’m there, I’ve come through difficult moments”, Alcaraz acknowledged. “It’s the first time I’ve played against him, but it’s not the first time I’m played in front of a lot of people, in a big stadium, in a few Masters 1000 semi-finals”, explained the Spaniard, who was in the penultimate round in Indian Wells and Miami in recent weeks.
“I’ll go out there as I did today. Obviously, I know there will be nerves. I’ll try to manage it as well as possible, because I know I’m going to have the opportunity. The training session I had with him this week helped me find out how to play him in the match”, warned Alcaraz, rejecting the suggestion that he will be intimidated by the occasion. “I think they have different games. But on an emotional level, I think it’ll be the same. Djokovic is one of the best in history. I’ll try and go out without thinking about that. I’ll try and play my best tennis, playing to win. That’s my essence. I’ll fight until the last point”.
Alcaraz concluded by declaring “I don’t know if it’s the best day of my life, because I’ve had some very good ones, but it is one of the best without a doubt”.