Tennis 2022: Carlos Alcaraz beats Rafael Nadal for the first time in huge upset, Madrid Open

Teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz earned the biggest scalp of his career against his idol Rafael Nadal and made tennis history in the process.

Carlos Alcaraz overcame an injury scare en route to a decisive victory over Rafael Nadal on Saturday (AEST) to set up a successful semi-final against Novak Djokovic in Madrid.

Alcaraz entered the competition with a 0-2 record against Nadal, but the 35-year-old arrived in Madrid with little to no preparation on clay after six weeks of treatment from a rib injury.

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In a turbulent quarter-final at the Caja Magica, 19-year-old Alcaraz beat 21-time Grand Slam champion Nadal 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 for his 26th victory of the season.

“It means a lot to me, all the hard work I do every day paid off today to beat Rafa, to beat the best player in history on clay, it means a lot to me,” said Alcaraz, who is the first teenager to beat Nadal on clay.

“It affected me a lot the fall in the second set but when I lost the second I went to the bathroom and I believed that I was able to come back, I was able to do my best, everything trying on the court, fighting to the last ball and I think that was the key.

The first three games were against serve and lasted over 20 minutes before Alcaraz were finally held off for a 3-1 advantage. Nadal only played one more game in this set.

In the third game of the second set, Alcaraz took a fall trying to win a ball back and had a medical timeout at 1-2 to get an ankle bandaged. Replays showed Alcaraz had badly rolled his ankle.

Nadal broke on the restart before play was stopped again to draw attention to someone in the crowd.

After a long break, Nadal held on and ran away with the set with Alcaraz visibly limited in movement.

Alcaraz moved better at the start of the deciding match after their toilet break, jumping to a 3-1 lead. He completed the victory in two hours and 28 minutes and set up a clash with Djokovic.

“I will text (David) Nalbandian to see how he did. I will fight and see what happens tomorrow,” joked Alcaraz, referring to the Argentine, who beat Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer en route to the Madrid title in 2007.

Djokovic reached his seventh semi-final in Madrid, beating Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-4 to register a 30th career victory in the Spanish capital.

The world No.1 will face Alcaraz for the first time and has praised the young Spaniard, having spent time training with him earlier this week.

“I love watching him play, like a lot of other players on the circuit. He’s fantastic for our sport, no doubt. I think it’s great that we have a young player who is doing so well and giving a breathe new life into the world of tennis,” Djokovic said.

“To see that and to know that he’s a very nice guy, very humble with good values, is a perfect combination.”

Hurkacz saved two match points on his own serve at 5-3 in the second set, forcing Djokovic to serve for an 81-minute win.

Djokovic hasn’t competed much in 2022 as his vaccination status has prevented him from playing in Australia or entering the United States.

His victory on Friday was only his seventh of the year. He will be looking for a second final of the season, having finished second in Belgrade last month.

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