Carlos Alcaraz describes his first victory over Rafael Nadal


Carlos Alcaraz scored his first victory over Rafael Nadal at the last year’s Madrid Masters. It was their third duel and the second in a row at Caja Magica. Carlos won only three games against Rafa on his 18th birthday in 2021 and changed that 12 months later. Alcaraz toppled Nadal 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in two hours and 28 minutes in the quarter-final to remain on the title course. Speaking about the match, Carlos said he stayed focused on his game and delivered one of his best performances on the Tour. Alcaraz came to Madrid with a massive boost after winning Barcelona and cracking the top-10.

A teenager entered the semi-final and set another thrilling clash against Novak Djokovic. Alcaraz overpowered Nadal for the first time in three encounters, experiencing an injury in the second set and starting all over in the decider to leave the king of clay behind. Carlos saved six out of nine break points and delivered four return games from five opportunities to control the scoreboard in sets he won. The youngster overpowered the veteran with 37 winners and 31 unforced errors. He dictated the pace and showed his incredible skills in front of the home fans a day after turning 19! Nadal tried his best, but it was not enough after a massive battle versus David Goffin a day earlier and four match points saved.

Carlos Alcaraz toppled Rafael Nadal in three sets at Caja Magica in 2022.

The youngster fired a forehand down the line winner in the encounter’s first game for an early break. Carlos fended off three break chances in game two before Rafa seized the fourth after the rival’s double fault to level the score at 1-1. The more experienced Spaniard wasted two game points in the third game and experienced the second break to fall 2-1 behind. Carlos served well and kept the pressure on the other side. He grabbed his third break after a cracking forehand winner in game seven to open a 5-2 gap. The young gun held at love with a service winner in the next one for 6-2 in 47 minutes. Nadal brought the game home after deuces at the beginning of the second set and squandered three break points in game two.

Rafa held at 15 in game three, and Carlos injured his ankle in the last point and received a medical timeout. Nadal was the only player on the court in the rest of the set, serving well and delivering breaks in games four and six to open a 5-1 gap. A four-time Caja Magica champion held at love in game seven for 6-1 and a massive boost ahead of the decider. Starting all over, Alcaraz brought back his A-game in the final set, while Nadal failed to follow that pace. After three comfortable holds on both sides, Carlos earned three break points in the fourth game with a backhand crosscourt winner and seized it for the crucial advantage. It was Alcaraz’s tenth backhand winner while his rival stood on zero!

The youngster held at 30 in game five to confirm the lead and open a 4-1 gap. Rafa closed the sixth game at love but needed a quick break to get back into contention. However, Carlos secured game seven at 15 to open a 5-2 gap and move closer to the finish line. Rafa grabbed the eighth game to prolong the action and force the rival to serve for the victory. Showing no sign of nerves, Alcaraz earned a match point with a drop shot winner in game nine and seized it with an incredible forehand down the line winner to emerge at the top in style.

“I met Rafael Nadal for the second time in Madrid last year, and it was a completely different experience than 12 months ago. I played against him two times before that match and learned from them. I focused on my game and played relaxed tennis. It was one of my best matches on the Tour,” Carlos Alcaraz said. 

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