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Alcaraz takes down Djokovic in 3 in semifinal thriller, will meet Zverev in Madrid tennis final

Carlos Alcaraz is the first man in history to defeat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in succession at a clay-court tournament. Photo credit: Mutua Madrid Open Instagram

By Ricky Dimon

Carlos Alcaraz cannot be stopped.

Two all-time greats have tried and failed in the past two days; first Rafael Nadal and then Novak Djokovic. Both came close, but on both occasions Alcaraz was too good in the end.

The 19-year-old followed up his huge quarterfinal over Nadal by outlasting Novak Djokovic 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) in the semis of the Mutua Madrid Open on Saturday afternoon. It was an epic encounter that lasted three hours and 35 minutes, after which Alcaraz earned a spot in his second Masters 1000 title match.

Every set was extremely competitive, but Djokovic especially had chances to take complete control in the second. The world No. 1 earned a break point at 4-4 and 5-5, either of which would have allowed him to serve for the match. However, Djokovic could not convert and Alcaraz eventually broke for the set on an amazing point, ending with the Spaniard tracking down a drop-shot and directing down the line for a forehand winner.

In the decider it was Alcaraz who had most of the chances. The world No. 9 generated six break-point opportunities in three different games, including a match point with Djokovic serving at 4-5, 30-40. But another tiebreaker was necessary, and Alcaraz led it the entire way–albeit never by more than a two-point margin. He capitalized on his third match point at 6-5 with a final forehand winner.

“I don’t know what the difference (in the match) was,” Alcaraz admitted. “It was so close. He had the chances to break my serve at the end of the second set. In the first set as well it was so close in the tiebreak. Honestly, I don’t know what made the difference.”

“It was a fantastic match; great battle,” Djokovic assessed. “But I am definitely disappointed with not being able to use my chances in the second set. (In the third set I had a lot of break points…. I had a lot of chances.

“(I) wasn’t able to capitalize when it mattered. He did. Congrats to him…. He held his nerves very well. For somebody of his age to play so maturely and courageously is impressive. He deserved to win.”

Alcaraz became the first player ever to beat Nadal and Djokovic in back-to-back matches on clay. He will go for a second Masters 1000 title (Miami earlier this year) in Sunday’s final against Alexander Zverev.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.