The list of victims of Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz keeps growing.
And so does the hype over tennis’ newest sensation.
After defeating his idol Nadal in the quarterfinals on Friday, the 19-year-old Alcaraz rallied to beat top-ranked Djokovic 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) after more than 3 1/2 hours on Saturday to reach the Madrid Open final.
“It was one of those matches to enjoy,” Alcaraz said. “Despite the tension, despite being the semifinals, being 7-6 in the third-set tiebreaker … I’ve enjoyed it. Until the last point I was being able to smile.”
In the women’s final, Ons Jabeur of Tunisia won her biggest career title by defeating Jessica Pegula of the U.S. in three sets.
Jabeur, the first Arab woman in the top 10, won 7-5, 0-6, 6-3 for her second career title.
“When I had the match point, I was like, I had to win it from the beginning, otherwise it’s going to be very tough for me,” Jabeur said. “But I’m very happy and trying to realize that I won today, really.”
Pegula, a one-time tour winner, will reach a career-high No. 11 ranking on Monday.
“It’s a spectacular feeling right now,” Alcaraz said. “I’m very excited to be able to play these kind of matches, to be able to beat Rafa yesterday, to be able to beat the No. 1 today.”
A win on Sunday will give Alcaraz his fourth title this season, the most of any player.
He will face defending champion Alexander Zverev, who defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. The second-seeded German player converted three of his five break opportunities to clinch the victory in nearly two hours in match that ended after 1 a.m. local time (2300 GMT).
Zverev is now 19-2 in Madrid, where he also won the title in 2018.
“This is my favorite court in the world,” Zverev said. “This is the Caja Mágica and it is doing magic for me because I came into this tournament playing really bad. I was not very confident I didn’t win a lot of matches this year but this court brings something out of me.”
The fourth-seeded Tsitsipas had beaten Zverev in the Monte Carlo semifinals earlier this year.
“I know 99.999% percent of the people will be against me tomorrow but this is completely fine,” he said with a smile. “I’m still thankful that you guys are here at 1:10 a.m.. It’s going to be a fun match tomorrow.”
Zverev returned to the empty center court after his match to practice his service.
The Spaniard took the second set after Djokovic wasted three break opportunities to serve for the match, and kept the pressure on during the third until finally capitalizing on one of his many chances in the tiebreaker.
“It was so close,” Alcaraz said. “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.”
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