Carlos Alcaraz completed yet another fairytale week in his fledgling career by defeating defending champion Alexander Zverev to win the Madrid Open.
It also means Alcaraz is now up an impressive 5-0 in the ATP Finals, becoming the youngest five-time champion since Nadal won seven titles at the same age in 2004-05.
Speaking during the trophy presentation, Zverev hailed Alcaraz’s exploits in 2022.
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Right now, you’re the best player in the world, even though you’re still five years old, you’re still beating us all! It’s great to see for tennis that we have such a young superstar who is going to win so many Grand Slams and be number 1 in the world. I think you will win this tournament many more times.
Reflecting on his sensational run in the Spanish capital, Alcaraz admitted it was a very special moment and revealed that growing up watching five-time champion Nadal at the tournament was an inspiration to him.
“It’s great to be able to beat this type of player; two of the best players in history and Zverev third in the world,” he told Amazon Prime.
“I would say this is the best week of my life, so I’m going to enjoy this tournament a lot.”
He added: “Seeing Rafa lift this trophy so many times (times over the) years has given me the power to work hard for this moment. It’s a big moment for me. This is the first tournament I watched as a kid, so lifting this trophy was really exciting.”
It was Alcaraz who made the first plays with Zverev forced to save the first break point of the match with an ace on the T to tie it at 2-2 after a trio of unforced forehand errors from second place.
The Spaniard continued to dictate rallies with his entire shooting repertoire and made the breakthrough in devastating style when he dismantled the world number 3 serve to break love and take a 4-2 lead.
There would also be no respite as the teen confidently served up a 31-minute set for love to send the house crowd into ecstasy.
Zverev reached the final with a 19-2 record in Madrid, including nine straight wins, but he simply had no answer for his opponent’s strength, athleticism and tactical awareness.
It came as no surprise when Alcaraz broke again to a 2-1 lead early in set 2 as he conjured what is now a hallmark to completely outrun the two-time champion and bring the game to love.
Zverev was starting to look lost and he nearly imploded with a pair of double faults and two horrible volleys to the net to provide the opportunity for a double break. Alcaraz duly cashed in with a sumptuous lob and broke again on a fourth match point to claim his seventh straight top 10 win.
The win also makes Alcaraz the first player to beat three of the top four players in an ATP Masters 1000 event since David Nalbandian defeated Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer in the Spanish capital in 2007.
Alcaraz was already guaranteed to climb to sixth place in the world rankings on Monday, but will also climb to second place in the pepperstone ATP Race To Turin, just 70 points behind Nadal in first place.
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