H366 days had passed since the first confrontation between the two players who symbolize the present and future of the ‘Armada’.
Carlos Alcaraz took revenge for that first time with Rafael Nadal and also from the semifinal of Indian Wells to confirm in Madrid and in Spain that is the heir after a result of 6-2, 1-6 and 6-3. The fight of styles ended with a spectacular right passer.
On the 20th anniversary of the Madrid tournament, an unprecedented event occurred: seven of the top eight seeded teams were in the quarterfinals. Only Casper Ruud had failed. The last time this happened in a tournament of the category was in Rome 2015.
Never before had there been a confrontation of rooms in a Masters 1,000 between two players with such a difference in age: 16 years and 11 months.
Alcaraz expected most of the crowd to be with his historic and decorated rival. He was quite impartial although acknowledging the trajectory of the Balearic Islands. In the previous one, both had removed the role of favorites for different reasons.
In the case of Nadal for arriving without competition rhythm after a break of 45 days due to a crack in the ribs. The Murcian remembered Rafa’s gallons on the surface where he has been the most dominant ever.
His was the first set after breaking his opponent’s service up to three times. If there is someone who runs well at the drop, it is the Balearic.
Nonetheless, Carlitos successfully attracted him to the net and crushed even more the physique of the champion of 21 majors and the one who has inscribed his name the most times in the Madrid trophy. To his repertoire he added serves at 227 kilometers per hour and accurate volleys.
Nadal took the lead on the scoreboard for the first time with 1-0 in the second set. The followers wanted to pica and applaud the eternal champion.
The most difficult thing in tennis is to close the matches and that is what the Murcian lacked. Rafa pulled hierarchy and the few energies he had left to make a 0-40.
Alcaraz turned around, but the duel had been equalized. Juan Carlos Ferrero’s pupil slipped dangerously in the last point of the third game. He completely sprained his ankle and poorly supported his arms in the fall.
The physical therapist quickly appeared to bandage the affected area. The concern was evident on the bench of the young tennis player. The question is whether he will change the decoration of the party. He did it because he received a blank break: 3-1 and Nadal took 13 of the next 14 points.
He also complained about the thumb of the Alcaraz hand, with obvious gestures of pain. The concern was no longer just Madrid but Rome and, above all, Roland Garros.
In case the afternoon wasn’t eventful enough, an indisposition of a spectator stopped the match at 40-15 in the fifth game. 10 minutes passed that cooled everything.
Alcaraz took the opportunity to test his supports and look at his hand. On resumption, the leader of the ‘Armada’ fired the score up to 6-1, signing the tables.
Carlos had lost the scheme: he played with shots and with continuous climbs to the net. His body language did not invite optimism. He went to the locker room to refresh his ideas and change the color of his shirt.
The player from El Palmar focused again at the start of the third round and showed it with his fourth ‘break’. He stood with a favorable 4-1. Nadal tried to turn it around, as usual. But his seven lives ran out in the round of 16 with David Goffin.
To recognize the difficulty of what Carlos’s tennis player did, one statistic is worth it: the Balearic legend had only yielded 43 of the 507 matches played on clay. In fact, the young man is the first under the age of 20 capable of ending the resistance of the king of the earth.
The earliest semi-finalist
Alcaraz is the youngest tennis player in a semifinal in Madrid at 19 years and 1 day, beating Denis Shapovalov (19 years and 1 month) and Nadal himself (19 years and 5 months).
Carlos he is currently sixth in the ATP ranking, waiting for what Andrey Rublev does with Stefanos Tsitsipas. He has beaten tennis players from the ‘top 10’ nine times. Tomorrow the most difficult awaits him: Novak Djokovic’s number.