Carlos Alcaraz, champion of the Madrid Masters 1000: the unstoppable rise of a phenomenon

Carlos Alcaraz is just 19 years old. That is the first figure to take into account to give a dimension of what the Brand new champion of the Madrid Masters 1000. In the Magic Box he consecrated himself as the youngest champion in the history of the tournament with a brilliant performance in the final, defeating Alexander Zverevtwice winner in the Spanish capital, 6-3 and 6-1, in just one hour and 2 minutes of play.

Carlitos, as he likes to be called (and not Carlos, who seems too serious to him) will be the world number 6 from this Monday; an irresistible climb, since twelve months ago it was the 114th in the world. In 2022, he has a record of 28 wins and just 3 losses, with four titles in the bag, with celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Barcelona and the Masters 1000 in Miami and Madrid.

Carlos Alcaraz and the Madrid Open champion trophy OSCAR DEL POZO – AFP

Carlos Alcaraz passes screens with supersonic speed, unlocks increasing levels of difficulty with an astonishing maturity. More than a breath of fresh air for the tour, he arrives at the heights of tennis with the force of an unstoppable hurricane. He offers the variety of the elect. He has an aggressive game, he can be versatile and go from defense to attack in one move, he makes correct decisions. He is not afraid of “posters”, of big names: against the Top 10 he totals 11 wins and just 6 falls, 8-2 so far in 2022 and seven wins in a row against the exalted.

In Madrid, Alcaraz successively beat Rafael Nadal (4th), Novak Djokovic (1st) and Alexander Zverev (3rd), three of the top four in the ranking. He beat all three of them for the first time. A) Yes emulated the achievement obtained by David Nalbandianwho in Madrid 2007 beat the top three in the weekly classification (Nadal -2-, in the quarterfinals; Djokovic -3- in the semifinals, and Federer -1- in the final), in a tournament that at that time was played on hard court and in mid-October.

If Alcaraz was tense about playing the final of the Masters 1000 that is played in his country, it was not noticed or he hid it perfectly. He played the definition with the concentration and ease of a veteran. Zverev did what he could. His resistance began to crumble with a break at love in the sixth game. The Murcian sniffed blood and accelerated: 6-3 in 31 minutes. In the second set he swept away with three breaks, one of them with a lob that lifted the stadium.

The epilogue was marked by the debacle of the German: two double faults to give up his scepter, mentally defeated. Zverev, who felt comfortable on the Madrid brick dust, succumbed with just 7 winning shots and 25 unforced errors, uncomfortable with the tennis beating Alcaraz imposed on him. Zverev did not walk with turns at the award ceremony when he congratulated Carlitos: “Right now you are the best player in the world. It’s great for tennis to have a player like you. You are going to win many Grand Slams and you are going to be a number 1”.

The effort of Carlos Alcaraz, the new jewel of the men's circuit
The effort of Carlos Alcaraz, the new jewel of the men’s circuitJAVIER SORIANO – AFP

In case it was necessary, Alcaraz himself commented on it after his victory: “Right now I don’t think about who my rivals are, I already experienced that last year and I was able to learn it. I do not consider that I am experiencing it for the first time. I enter the court thinking that I can win, I trust myself and I think that I can win at any time. I believe in myself, I always say that I don’t play finals, I win them”. His game, as it was seen, was in the same sense as his words. More: the Murcian became the sixth player to win the first five finals he has played, following the steps of Ernests Gulbis (6-0), Martin Klizan (6-0), Thomas Enqvist, Andrei Medvedev and Sjëng Schalken.

With confidence through the roof after his victories against Nadal and Djokovic, Alcaraz beat Zverev on Sunday in a quick final, in which the German was left without answers to counter the Murcian. Zverev had comfortably won his two previous games against Alcaraz, but this time he was outclassed by his young rival. When the world number 3 looked to move up, he was met with powerful passing shots; when he was insecure with the serve, the match was over. Zverev managed to pick up three match-points on his serve, but in the fourth he crashed with a double fault.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain celebrates after winning the final against Alexander Zverev at the Madrid Open
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain celebrates after winning the final against Alexander Zverev at the Madrid Open Paul White – AP

In this 2022 Alcaraz won his first title of the 500 series (Rio de Janeiro), his first Masters 1000 (Miami), entered the Top 10. Comparisons with other prodigies are inevitable, especially with his compatriot Nadal; This emergence of the young man from El Palmar seems to be traced to more than one with that start at full steam by Rafa in 2005. That tour of the left-hander from Manacor would culminate in obtaining his first Grand Slam, the first of the 13 titles of him at Roland Garros. Everything he did in just five months opens the doors for him to bid for the world championship of brick dust that will start in two weeks in Paris. “I really want to win a Grand Slam, to show my level. Roland Garros is very special for me because it was the first Grand Slam in which I reached the third round. People are going to take me as a favorite, but I take that as motivation, ”said Alcaraz, who will not play the Masters 1000 in Rome to recover from the ankle injury he suffered due to a fall in the match against Nadal. The French Open will be another huge challenge, for whom he has already come a long way this season. But that, of course, will be another story.

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