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Alcaraz: Monte Carlo Defeat Was Catalyst For Madrid Success

  • Posted: May 08, 2022

Alcaraz: Monte Carlo Defeat Was Catalyst For Madrid Success

Spaniard has now won five ATP Tour titles

Red-hot Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz earned his 10th consecutive win Sunday to capture the Mutua Madrid Open title.

The 19-year-old overcame top four stars Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev en route to his second ATP Masters 1000 crown. Titles in Barcelona and Madrid represent a stunning response from Alcaraz, who, after winning in Miami, faced question marks following his opening-round defeat at the first clay-court ATP Masters 1000 of the season in Monte Carlo.

Alcaraz revealed that he feels his defeat against American Sebastian Korda in the Principality was pivotal, helping him raise his game further.

“I consider myself a player that’s playing very well. As the numbers speak by themselves, I think that I’m doing it quite well on clay right now,” Alcaraz said following his final win in Madrid.

“As I said in Monte-Carlo, you learn a lot from defeats. I think this is a clear example. I lost in the first round of Monte Carlo, and I learned from that defeat and I started to train for Barcelona and Madrid. I consider that I am playing very, very well, and I think that I am a tough opponent for the other players.”

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Alcaraz Topples Zverev For Madrid Title

Just 12 months ago, Alcaraz was No. 120 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and won just three games against Nadal in the second round in Madrid. On Monday he will rise to a career-high No. 6 after he became the first player since David Nalbandian in Madrid in 2007 to defeat three top four players at a Masters 1000 event.

However, despite his success, the 2022 Tour-leading four-time titlist is still aiming for further improvement.

“I think that I have to improve everything still. I have always said that you can improve everything. You never reach a limit,” Alcaraz said. “Look at Rafa, Djokovic, [Roger] Federer, all of them improve and they have things to improve. That’s why they are so good, and that’s why they are so much [of the] time up there, because they don’t stop. They keep on working and improving.

“That’s what I want to do. I want to keep on progressing. I have really good shots. I don’t say that I don’t have them, but I know that I can improve them and they can be even better.”

By triumphing on home soil in Madrid, Alcaraz has completed a dream journey from fan to champion, having watched the event as a child. The 19-year-old shed a smile as he reflected on his achievement and personal history with the event.

“I remember the first time when I was playing, when I was small in Murcia, I didn’t imagine at that moment that I was going to be able to reach this level, to be here right now, champion of the Mutua Madrid Open,” Alcaraz said. “I remember that my life was to compete back in the day. I liked to train a lot, and I am still a kid that likes to compete more than to train.

“For me to celebrate this title, which is very special, with my family, with my cousins, uncles, grandparents, all my family in general, it’s very, very special.”

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Brain Game: Rock-Solid Alcaraz Can Do Everything Under The Sun

  • Posted: May 08, 2022

Brain Game: Rock-Solid Alcaraz Can Do Everything Under The Sun

Learn how Alcaraz eased past Zverev in the Madrid final

Carlos Alcaraz is a 360-degree player. He comes at you from every possible angle.

Alcaraz defeated Alexander Zverev 6-3, 6-1 in the Mutua Madrid Open final on Sunday by bamboozling the German with a scintillating array of Spanish shotmaking. Alcaraz comes at you with a laser forehand. Or a crushing backhand. Or a devilish drop shot. Or serving and volleying. He comes at you so many ways, you don’t know which way is up.

Alcaraz hit six drop shots in the final and won the point on all of them. Four came from a forehand groundstroke while two came from a forehand drop volley. The 19-year-old Spaniard also served and volleyed five times in the final and won them all. The skill level that exists across the entire spectrum of strategy is simply off the charts. Watching Alcaraz is like watching something for the very first time, even though you have watched the sport for decades.

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Alcaraz Topples Zverev For Madrid Title

Alcaraz Forehands & Backhands
Overall, Alcaraz hit 60 per cent (50/84) forehand groundstrokes for the match, which excludes returns, volleys and overheads. Thirty-six of them were regular forehands standing in the Deuce court and 14 were run-around forehands standing in the Ad court.

The following breakdown includes Alcaraz’s forehand and backhand winners and errors as well as errors that were also extracted from Zverev from that particular shot.

Regular Forehands
– 36 hit
– 2 winners
– 6 errors
– 5 errors extracted from Zverev

Run-Around Forehands
– 14 hit
– 5 winners
– 2 errors
– 3 errors extracted from Zverev

– 34 hit
– 2 winners
– 5 errors
– 9 errors extracted from Zverev

Alcaraz’s forehand is a formidable weapon, with his run-around forehand especially so. Of the 14 times he struck this shot standing in the deuce court, he immediately won the point eight times from a winner or forcing an error. It’s a prolific strike-rate, especially when you consider he only yielded two errors in the process.

What’s fascinating is that Alcaraz’s backhand immediately produced more errors on the other side of the court from Zverev than his forehand did. Alcaraz extracted nine errors from his backhand wing and eight errors from his forehand. This is a key to the teenager’s success. There simply is no weaker wing for opponents to prey on.

Alcaraz only yielded five groundstroke errors (two forehand/three backhand) in the opening set, which set the tone for the one-sided final. Throw in two drop-shot points won and three serve-and-volley points won and Zverev had no discernible strategy to claw his way back into set two. To end the opening set, Alcaraz committed only one error from his last 16 backhands. It must have been a torturous time for Zverev, who regularly relies on his backhand to break down his opponent’s backhand. Not this time. Not even close.

The analytics of Alcaraz’s matches uncover a player who is solid as a rock and can do everything under the sun.

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Alcaraz Closes On Nadal For Race Lead

  • Posted: May 08, 2022

Alcaraz Closes On Nadal For Race Lead

Alcaraz within 70 points of Nadal in Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated after Carlos Alcaraz said he will not be competing in the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome.

After winning his ATP Tour-leading fourth title of the season on Sunday at the Mutua Madrid Open, Carlos Alcaraz is challenging Rafael Nadal for the lead in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin.

Alcaraz is now second in the Race, trailing Nadal by just 70 points. Just this week, the 19-year-old earned his first win against Nadal in the Madrid quarter-finals.

Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin Standings

 Player  Points
 1) Rafael Nadal  3,540
 2) Carlos Alcaraz  3,470
 3) Stefanos Tsitsipas  2,900
 4) Andrey Rublev  1,920
 5) Daniil Medvedev  1,900

Nadal will have a chance to extend his lead at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome after Alcaraz said he will not be competing at the Foro Italico. But Alcaraz has a healthy 570-point lead over third-placed Stefanos Tsitsipas. That means unless Tsitsipas reaches the Rome final, Alcaraz will remain second in the Race heading into Roland Garros.

The Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin reflects the year-to-date standings, but Alcaraz is also making big moves in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. On Monday, the Spanish teen will climb to a career-high World No. 6. Entering the same week last year, he was at World No. 114 and still had not cracked the Top 100. 

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Alcaraz Topples Zverev For Madrid Title


“It’s highly, highly possible Alcaraz could finish this year No. 1 in the world,” said former World No. 1 Jim Courier, who broadcasted the Madrid final for Tennis Channel.

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Alcaraz Wins First Set Against Zverev In Madrid Final

  • Posted: May 08, 2022

Alcaraz Wins First Set Against Zverev In Madrid Final

Spaniard chasing second Masters 1000 title

Carlos Alcaraz is one set away from making more history after he won the first set against Alexander Zverev 6-3 in the Mutua Madrid Open final.

The Spaniard flew out of the blocks as he lit up a packed Manolo Santana Stadium with his variety of shots and athleticism, clinching the opener in 35 minutes. Alcaraz is aiming to earn a seventh straight Top 10 win and tour-leading fourth title of the year in the Spanish capital.

The 19-year-old, who triumphed in Miami, will become the second-youngest player to win two ATP Masters 1000 titles if he can clinch his first victory over Zverev, who leads their ATP Head2Head series 2-0. Rafael Nadal captured crowns in Monte Carlo and Rome in 2005 when he was 18.


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In a dream week on home soil, Alcaraz eliminated Nadal and Novak Djokovic en route to the final, becoming the first player to beat both at the same clay-court event. Following his final run, Alcaraz will rise to a career-high No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on Monday.

In a dominant first-set performance, Alcaraz successfully targeted Zverev’s forehand with his power from the baseline. The 19-year-old consistently turned defence into attack with his agility, gaining the crucial break in the sixth game before serving well to lead.

Zverev is aiming to capture his third title in Madrid, having lifted the trophy in 2018 and 2021. The German defeated Marin Cilic, Lorenzo Musetti, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to his second final of the season in the Spanish capital, after also advancing to the championship match in Montpellier in February.

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Karatsev Ousts Harris, Sets Djokovic Clash In Rome

  • Posted: May 08, 2022

Karatsev Ousts Harris, Sets Djokovic Clash In Rome

Krajinovic, Cilic and Garin also advance in Italian capital

Digging deep to escape a poor run of form is a crucial part of life on the ATP Tour, and Aslan Karatsev showed he was up for the fight at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Sunday afternoon.

The World No. 34 saved a match point in the deciding set tie-break to defeat Lloyd Harris in the first round of the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome and book a second-round clash with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Karatsev’s form has tailed off since he started the year with six straight wins and a third ATP Tour title in Sydney, with the 28-year-old holding a 2-10 record since his run to the third round at the Australian Open.

After splitting the opening two sets the match was settled in a nerve-wracking final-set tie-break, with the big-serving Harris saving a match point at 5/6 before letting slip one of his own at 7/6. Karatsev didn’t miss with his second chance to clinch the match as he edged home to move to 2-0 in the pair’s ATP Head2Head series.


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Filip Krajinovic made an impressive start to his Rome campaign as he took out Estoril finalist Frances Tiafoe with a 7-6(7), 7-6(4) win. The Serbian clinched a dramatic opening set tie-break by converting his third set-point and showed similar resolve in the same situation in the second set to move to 2-0 against the American on clay. Krajinovic also defeated Tiafoe over five sets at Roland Garros in 2019. His next opponent in Rome will be sixth seed Andrey Rublev.

Marin Cilic also advanced to the second round on Sunday as he enjoyed a comfortable win over Italian wild card Matteo Arnaldi. Cilic is a former semi-finalist at the Foro Italico, having reached the final four in 2018 before falling to Alexander Zverev. The Croatian’s experience proved too much for 21-year-old Arnaldi, with Cilic completing a 6-1, 6-4 victory to book a second-round appointment with Luca Nardi or ninth seed Cameron Norrie.

There was also opening-round success for Cristian Garin, who defeated #NextGenATP Italian Francesco Passaro, 6-3, 6-2, to match his best performance in the Italian capital from 2021. Standing between the Chilean and a maiden third-round appearance in Rome will be seventh seed Carlos Alcaraz.

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Koolhof/Skupski Capture Maiden Masters 1000 Title In Madrid

  • Posted: May 08, 2022

Koolhof/Skupski Capture Maiden Masters 1000 Title In Madrid

Seventh seeds have now won four titles this season

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski captured their first ATP Masters 1000 title together Sunday at the Mutua Madrid Open, edging fifth seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-7(4), 6-4, 10-5.

In an entertaining final, the seventh seeds returned with great depth and demonstrated great coverage around the net to triumph after two hours and three minutes, improving their 2022 match record to 30-7.

The Dutch-British pair has now earned a tour-leading four ATP Tour titles in their first year together, after also clinching trophies at the Melbourne Summer Set, Adelaide International 2 and the Qatar ExxonMobil Open.

“We came into this tournament with a lot of confidence. We’ve done well from January onwards,” Skupski said. “We keep on learning from tournament to tournament, but it’s been a great week here.

“The fans are unbelievable. They seem to appreciate doubles. It’s just nice to come through. It’s our first Masters [1000] title together and individually, so it’s nice to get that over the line so we can move forward and hopefully win a few more.”

With their victory in Madrid, Koolhof and Skuspki have strengthened their position as the top team in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Team Rankings. They lead all the teams on the ATP Tour this season in wins (30), finals (7) and titles (4).

Koolhof, who has now won 11 tour-level crowns individually and Skupski, who has captured 10 trophies, fell to Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner in the Miami Open presented by Itau final last month. However, they played aggressively all week in Madrid to successfully crack the Masters 1000 code. What’s the next goal?

“To win Rome I think, next week! We’ve been playing great tennis, making a lot of finals so far. This one was still missing, a title in a Masters [1000],” Koolhof said. “We’ll just go week by week, so we’re going to enjoy this one and then start preparing for Rome from tomorrow on.”

Cabal and Farah were aiming to win their third Masters 1000 title together and first since Rome in 2019. The Colombians dropped just one set en route to their second championship match of the season, after also enjoying a run to the final in Monte Carlo.

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Newcomer Nardi: Get To Know The Latest #NextGenATP Italian Star

  • Posted: May 08, 2022

Newcomer Nardi: Get To Know The Latest #NextGenATP Italian Star

18-year-old has won two ATP Challenger Tour titles this year

From Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner to Lorenzo Sonego and Lorenzo Musetti, Italy has produced a plethora of ATP Tour stars in recent years.

Now, they have more young talents emerging, with one named Luca Nardi.

The #NextGenATP 18-year-old has enjoyed an impressive 2022 season, capturing ATP Challenger Tour titles at events in Forli and Lugano. His results have seen him climb to ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Milan, as he aims to make his debut at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in November.

This week, the Italian will make his debut at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia after receiving a wild card from the ATP Masters 1000 event. It signifies another crucial moment for Nardi, who recently spoke to about the factors behind his recent success.

“I started training harder and with more intensity. I also started a diet and eating better,” Nardi said when discussing his season. “Everything is going better from that. I’m trying to be as professional as I can. In general, it is the same training, with maybe some extra work on the forehand and backhand, but the intensity is much different. That is the difference.

“In Italy, the other players push me to do my best. We have so many good players now, with Sinner, Berrettini, Musetti and Sonego. I hope I can be [like them] in the future. They always push me to do much better and work harder.”

Nardi will be looking to follow in the footsteps of World No. 13 Sinner, who lifted the trophy in Milan in 2019 aged 18, the same age Nardi is now. The Italian has already earned 16 ATP Challenger Tour match wins this year, having recorded just seven victories at that level last season.

Nardi was No. 364 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in January, but is currently at a career-high No. 198. With 17 Italian players ranked inside the Top 200, Nardi is the youngest at 18 years and nine months. His recent success has been a reward for the hard work he has put in since he first picked up a racquet 11 years ago.

“When I was a child, my brother Niccolo was also playing tennis,” Nardi said. “He’s seven years older than me. I always went to watch him at the tennis club. I enjoyed it a lot. Then, when I was seven years old, I started playing in my hometown in Pesaro.

“I remember being so shy when I was on the court. My mom had to stand at the net, just so I was comfortable. From there, I played more and more tennis and took it more seriously a couple years ago. I was always going to public school and then playing tennis, so I was living two lives: study life and tennis life. But until I was 16, I didn’t know what I wanted to do. Since two years ago, I took tennis more seriously and started going to private school.”

From being motivated by his brother to overcoming his shyness, Nardi is now flying higher than ever. However, just three years ago he was uncertain as to whether he would even pursue a career in the sport after he split with coach Francesco Sani.

“Francesco Sani was my coach since I was seven years old. From the beginning. But two and a half years ago, I moved to the Federation’s tennis centre in Italy and I couldn’t stay with him anymore,” Nardi revealed. “I stayed there for only one year with the Federation’s coaches and trainers, but I didn’t feel good without Francesco.

“There were many times that I wanted to stop playing tennis. I didn’t work as hard, because I was sad. It wasn’t a passion anymore. I wanted to stay with Francesco, but he has a family so there were some problems with his traveling.

Following his uncertainty, Nardi re-joined forces with Sani and continued playing the sport, which is a decision he feels has paid off today.

“For some reason I didn’t stop and here I am,” Nardi added. “Now I am working with him [Sani] again in Pesaro, and with Gabriele Costantini. We have a very good relationship. If they see I’m sad on the court, they won’t let me do it. They want me to be happy and I am having fun now, which is the most important thing for me.

“When I came back to my city, with my family, my friends and Francesco, I slowly started to play again and find that passion. I always call my friends and family when I am at tournaments and they are so important to me. I am calm and relaxed with them.”

Get To Know Luca
Biggest Passion Outside Tennis: I love motorcycles. I have a Yamaha. [Moto GP legend] Valentino Rossi is from my city, Pesaro. In my city, there is a lot of passion for professional moto. Everyone loves motorcycles there. You can imagine me going to the tennis club with my motorcycle.

I love playing padel. If playing professional padel paid as much as tennis pays, I would go for it. Five or six years ago, they started putting courts in Italy and now it’s getting more popular.

Perfect Day Without Tennis: Wake up late, for sure. Then for lunch I will eat the best food my mom makes. It is pasta al forno. Then, I would go for a ride on my motorcycle and play padel. For dinner, I would eat sushi. I love sushi.

Dream Job Outside Tennis: Physiotherapist. Whenever I go to the physio, I have some questions to ask how the body works. That is my dream job.

Favourite Music: Latin/Reggaeton. ‘Ozuna’ is my favourite.

Favourite Food From Home: Pasta al forno (baked ziti)

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Final Preview: Alcaraz Seeks Another First vs. Zverev In Madrid

  • Posted: May 08, 2022

Final Preview: Alcaraz Seeks Another First vs. Zverev In Madrid

Defending champ Zverev playing for third Madrid title

The Caja Magica has proved a fitting name for the Mutua Madrid Open venue this week, with home favourite Carlos Alcaraz embarking on a magical run to the final at the ATP Masters 1000 event. After beating Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic for the first time to set up a title tilt against defending champion Alexander Zverev, the 19-year-old seeks his first win in three tries against the German on Sunday.

Should Alcaraz take the title Sunday, he will move to second place in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin, just 70 points behind Nadal, making it highly likely that he will eventually qualify for the year-end Nitto ATP Finals.

Before the singles final, Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah will take on in-form duo Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski for the doubles crown.

[2] Alexander Zverev (GER) vs. [7] Carlos Alcraz (ESP)

Zverev holds a 2-0 ATP Head2Head advantage over Alcaraz following a pair of dominant hard-court victories last season in Acapulco and Vienna. But the Spaniard has reached a stratospheric level in recent months, winning three ATP Tour titles and compiling a 5-2 record against Top 10 opponents.

Alcaraz enters the final with a 27-3 record on the season, level with Stefanos Tsitsipas for the most in the ATP Tour, while Zverev is not far behind at 21-7.

The 19-year-old is undefeated in his four previous tour-level finals, and on Sunday can become the youngest five-time champion since Nadal won seven titles by the same age in 2004-05. All that success made Alcaraz the newest member of the Top 10 himself entering this week, and his final run has lifted three more places to No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

But Zverev has proven to be the man to beat in Madrid, and will enter the final with a 19-2 record as a two-time champion in the Spanish capital (2018, 2021). Still, he downplayed his chances in the final against the red-hot fan favourite after seeing him take out Nadal and Djokovic in succession.

“Nothing that surprises me,” Zverev said of those results, “because I know how good he is. I said last year in Acapulco that by 2023 he’s going to be Top 10. He beat me by a year. There’s nothing more to say. He’s an incredible player. He’s going to be incredible. At 19 years old now, he looks like a grown man. To be honest, there’s no limit for him.”

Alcaraz did not know his final opponent after getting past Djokovic in the first semi-final, but was already making his recovery plans when he spoke with the press following that match. Not only will the Spaniard have to recover physically following that three-hour, 35-minute battle, he must reset mentally after defeating two tennis legends in as many days.

“After today’s match, of course with my team, with my family, we are going to have a great time to enjoy the moment. But I think that tomorrow I’m going to play a final of a really big tournament, and tonight I’m going to be very focussed to be able to recover and to [play] as best as possible for tomorrow’s match.”

Zverev also went three sets in the semis, against Tsitsipas, but needed less than two hours to advance in relatively dominant fashion. Despite the shorter match time, Zverev did not wrap up the win until near 1 a.m. due to a late start. Nonetheless, he said post-match that he planned to return to the court to practise ahead ahead of facing his “toughest opponent of the week” in the final. He did the same after a late quarter-final finish against Felix Auger-Aliassime and has made a habit of post-match practises in recent times.

ATP WTA Live App

A look at the Balance of Power and Conversion & Steal metrics for the finalists paints an intriguing picture ahead of what may lie ahead. Both men are above average in Balance of Power, which measures the percentage of shots hit from an attacking position. Zverev is 11 percentage points above average at converting points from those attacking positions, while Alcaraz’s standout stat is the “steal” — he wins 42 percent of points in which his opponent gains an attacking advantage, beating the Tour average by seven percentage points.

The below figures were calculated from both finalists’ four matches in Madrid.

  Balance of

Conversion Steal
Alcaraz 22% 69% 42%
Zverev 26% 76% 39%
Tour Avg. 21% 65% 35%

[5] Juan Sebastian Cabal (COL) / Robert Farah (COL) vs. [7] Wesley Koolhof (NED) / Neal Skupski (GBR)

Two of the in-form doubles teams on the ATP Tour meet for the first time in the Madrid final. Cabal and Farah, both former World No. 1s in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings, seek their first title of 2022 in their second final of the season. They fell just short of ATP Masters 1000 glory in Monte Carlo, losing a Match Tie-break in the final, and have earned an opportunity to atone for that result less than a month later.

Koolhof and Skupski, who stand atop the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Team Rankings, are competing in a tour-leading sixth final of the year as they aim for a fourth title. The Dutch-British duo continues to mesh perfectly after teaming for the first time in January. Like their opponents, they also suffered recent defeat in a Masters 1000 final when they lost to Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner in Miami. But the seventh seeds avenged that loss with a 7-6(7), 7-5 win over the singles stars in the Madrid semi-finals.

Following a Match Tie-break loss in the Barcelona final two weeks ago, Koolhof and Skupski are playing in their second consecutive final.


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