A day after his 19th birthday, Alcaraz, who has already broken into the top 10, defied an ankle injury suffered in a fall in the second set to defeat his 35-year-old opponent 6-2 1-6 6 -3.
It looked like the teenager might not be able to finish the game when he rolled over on his right ankle in the third game of the second set after playing a brilliant opener.
Nadal clinched five games in a row, but Alcaraz started to move more freely again at the start of the deciding match and held on to an early serve break to beat his idol.
Alcaraz had lost both of their previous meetings with Nadal but, while this will inevitably be hailed as a changing of the guard moment, there were mitigating factors for the 21-time Grand Slam champion, including his grueling Thursday clash against David. Gofin.
It was also Nadal’s first event since suffering a stress fracture of a rib six weeks ago, while Madrid is his least successful of major clay-court events.
Nadal will travel to Rome to prepare for the Italian Open as he prepares for the French Open, while Alcaraz moves on to an intriguing first career meeting with Djokovic.
The Serbian looked a lot more like himself this week and he produced a fine performance to beat Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-3 6-4.
“I was serving really well in the second set, I think that kept me alive,” the world No. 1 said. “I was happy with the way I was building up points. I tried to run and miss it and overall it was a solid performance.
“It’s definitely a positive indication that I’m on the right path to reach the desired level of tennis, to be in one of the best tournaments in the world where all the best players are playing. Of course, it gives me confidence and encourages you to continue.
Djokovic received a surprise in the third round after Andy Murray had food poisoning and the Scot has decided not to take his place in Italian Open qualifying.
He will decide early next week whether to play Roland Garros, which he previously said he would skip, or focus on the grass-court season.
Meanwhile, world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who hasn’t played since the Miami Open in March after undergoing hernia surgery, will return to the Geneva Open from May 14 and should be fit for Roland Garros.
Carlos Alcaraz earns first win over Rafael Nadal to reach Madrid semis
Source link Carlos Alcaraz earns first win over Rafael Nadal to reach Madrid semis