Carlos Alcaraz put in a remarkable performance to defeat compatriot Nadal at the Madrid Open and now the 21-time Grand Slam winner believes the teenager can defeat Novak Djokovic in the semifinals
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Rafael Nadal has backed Carlos Alcaraz to defeat Novak Djokovic in the last four of the Madrid Open after the 21-time Grand Slam winner was defeated by the teenager in the quarterfinals. The pair delivered a headline duel on Friday as Spain’s young and old met on home soil.
Alcaraz secured his first victory over hero Nadal, going 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 in what was a memorable day for the 19-year-old. The win brings him one step closer to a triumph in his home country, but it will No easier for the teenager when he takes on world No. 1 Novak Djokovic for a spot in the finals on Saturday.
Nadal believes his Spanish counterpart has what it takes to defeat Djokovic but warned his compatriot he can’t afford breaks against the Serb after Alcaraz won just one game in the second set of their meeting after falling at the Baseline seemed to temporarily unnerve him.
Nadal said: “Carlos can win perfectly. I see no reason why he can’t win. He may not have the downside that he had in the second set today, but he plays with a lot of adrenaline.”
The 2022 Australian Open winner proved merciful in the defeat as he congratulated Alcaraz. Nadal commented: “The first thing is to congratulate him. First of all happy for him. He was better than me in different facets of the game and I need to improve these days.
“It’s accepted naturally and calmly, with the certainty that there is a path to follow and come up with real options to generate chances. It’s an easy loss to digest, we knew what we came here for, and we have to congratulate Carlos.” He’s playing well and I wish him the best for the rest of the tournament.”
The respect was returned by Alcaraz, who said: “It means a lot to me. All the hard work I put in every day has paid off. Beating Rafa – the best player in history on clay – means a lot.”
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His attention now turns to facing Djokovic on Saturday afternoon and despite the mammoth task ahead, Alcaraz is feeling confident. “I’m focused on tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll text you [David] Nalbandian on how he did it [laughs]. I’ll fight and see what happens.” Nalbandian is the only player to have beaten Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer in the same tournament, a feat accomplished by the Argentine at the 2007 Madrid Open.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/sport/tennis/rafael-nadal-carlos-alcaraz-djokovic-26899093 Rafael Nadal backs Carlos Alcaraz to beat Novak Djokovic but has warning for the teenager