MADRID ( Associated Press) — Rafael Nadal on day one. Novak Djokovic at number two.
The list of victims of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz continues to grow.
And so does the hype on the latest tennis sensation.
After defeating his idol Nadal in the quarterfinals on Friday, 19-year-old Alcaraz defeated top-ranked Djokovic 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) after more than 3 1/2 hours Rally to defeat. To reach the final of the Madrid Open on Saturday.
“It was one of those matches to enjoy,” Alcarz said. “Despite the tension, being 7-6 in the third set tiebreaker, despite the Masters 1000 semifinals… I have enjoyed it. Till the last point I was able to smile.”
In front of a raucous home crowd on the Caza Magica center court – Alcarz finished 27th of the year – on his third match point to secure the win.
“It’s unbelievable to play in front of this crowd against the No. 1 player in the world here in Madrid,” he said.
A win on Sunday would give Alcaraz their fourth title this season, more than any other player.
He will face defending champion Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsitsipas, who met in the semi-finals late on Saturday.
Alcaraz, the youngest player in the top 10 since Nadal in 2005, has this year’s victories in Miami, Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.
He beat Nadal for the first time on Friday and won his first match against Djokovic.
Djokovic remains without a title this season as he tries to regain his best form to defend his title at this month’s French Open.
Alcaraz, Madrid’s youngest ever to reach the semi-finals, took an early lead in the first set but Djokovic rallied.
The Spaniard took the second set after Djokovic wasted three break opportunities to serve for the match, and kept up the pressure during the third until one of his many opportunities was finally redeemed in the tiebreaker.
The match winner was one of more than 30 forehand winners from Alcaraz who kept Djokovic on the defensive throughout. Alcaraz had 51 winners out of Djokovic’s 24.
“It was very close,” said Alcaraz. “He had a chance to break my serve at the end of the second set. In the first set also it was so close to the tiebreak. To be honest, I don’t know what difference it made.”
Djokovic praised Alcaraz after arriving in Madrid this week, and said his son has already made the young Spaniard his favorite to replace Nadal.
Tunisia’s Ons Jabur faced Jessica Pegula of America in the women’s final late Saturday.
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