‘New superstar’

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Teenager Carlos Alcaraz continued his blazing rise by demolishing Alexander Zverev in the Madrid final on Sunday, leaving the German to say: “Even though you are still five years old, you are still beating us all.” Two weeks before the start of Roland Garros, the young Spaniard brushed aside his third-ranked foe 6-3, 6-1 in 62 minutes to continue a run that signals tennis has a new power. “It feels great to be able to beat these players. To beat two of the best players in history and then Zverev, the World No.3. He is a great player. I would say this is the best week of my life,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview. Before the Madrid tournament last year, Alcaraz was ranked 120th in the world. On Monday, he reached No.6.

Second Masters title

On the way, he became the youngest US Open quarter-finalist of the Open era last September, then won his first Masters 1000 title in Miami in early April. Victory on Sunday brought a second Masters 1000 title. The only younger player to reach that milestone was Rafael Nadal, who won in Monte Carlo and Rome when he was 18. Zverev had no doubt where the teenager’s trajectory is heading. “It’s great to see for tennis that we have such a new superstar who is going to win so many Grand Slams and is going to be World No.1,” said the German.

Alexander Zverev

Alcaraz entered the tournament fresh from victory in Barcelona. In Madrid, he turned 19 on Thursday and on the next two days battled past Nadal in two hours and 28 minutes and Novak Djokovic in an 3hr 36min. “I am 19 years old, which I think is the key to be able to play long and tough matches in a row. I am feeling great physically,” he said. The atmosphere on Sunday did not reach the fervour of the day before, as Alcaraz grabbed control early and cruised to his quickest victory of the week.

Special tournament

Even so, “it was a spectacular atmosphere,” he told the crowd at the end. “This tournament is special for me because it’s the first tournament I watched when I was seven or eight,” said Alcaraz. “Watching Rafa lift this trophy so often, gave me a lot of power to work hard for this moment.”  The German second seed was impressed. “Carlitos, right now you are the best player in the world. Even though you are still five years old you are still beating us all,” he told Alcaraz on court after the match. Alcaraz did not allow Zverev a single break point. Alcaraz broke in the sixth game and comfortably held his serve to take the first set.

Alcaraz, Osaka withdraw from Italian Open

Fresh off his victory at the Madrid Open, Carlos Alcaraz withdrew from the Italian Open on Monday because of a right ankle injury. Later, Naomi Osaka withdrew from the women’s tournament with a left Achilles heel injury. Alcaraz, 19, beat Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic back-to-back in Madrid then defeated Alexander Zverev in Sunday’s final for his tour-leading fourth title of the year. Alcaraz hurt his ankle during the quarter-final win over Nadal.

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Originally published at www.mid-day.com

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