ATP Madrid: Alcaraz, a golden opportunity to be seized? “Rafa has a thousand lives”

The context

It was the theoretical quarter-final that the draw promised. And the two loved ones of the Spanish fans have assumed their status. Could it be otherwise? To tell the truth, seeing Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz at the date was not so obvious before hostilities began in the Caja Magica. Especially for the first mentioned. Deprived of competition for six weeks due to a cracked rib during the Indian Wells semi-final against … Alcaraz, the Majorcan didn’t know where she was before stepping on her beloved clay in a tournament for the first time this season.

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Imagining Nadal losing to a rising Miomir Kecmanovic, or a returning David Goffin, wasn’t so incongruous. He hadn’t prepared enough for his own admission, but the prospect of finding the Madrid crowd and the countdown to Roland-Garros had left him with little choice. If the world number 4 has confirmed that his injury was ancient history, he still lacks the rhythm and the thriller experienced against the Belgian in the second round has confirmed it.

In control, brainless then miraculously, Nadal knew everything against Goffin: the summary

However, the ocher ogre found most of its references on its preferred surface, as shown in sequences in its mastery of court geometry. And he has lost none of his anger to win, nor of his mental strength. By linking these two successes, he has only strengthened the confidence he has been riding in since the beginning of the season. Carlos Alcaraz is not lacking in confidence in his designated heir. Since his defeat to Nadal in California, he has won two outstanding titles in Miami on hardcourt in the Masters 1000, then in Barcelona on clay.

The Murcian by birth was therefore expected in turn by the Madrid public. But the particular conditions of altitude could have altered his feelings. He hasn’t played his best tennis yet, neither against Nikoloz Basilashvili nor against Cameron Norrie. But even in AC, his average level was enough to overwhelm these solid players and extend his winning streak (now seven). Almost a year from the day after their first duel already in the Spanish capital, he seems much better equipped to face this fight against his childhood idol than him.

Face to face

Rafael Nadal leads 2-0 in his duels against Carlos Alcaraz. After a one-way match in the 2nd round in Madrid last year (6-1, 6-2) on clay, their challenge on hard courts in the Indian Wells semi-final has been much more suspended (6-4, 4 – 6, 6-3).

Their journey

Rafael Nadal

1st round: exempted
2nd round: defeats Miomir Kecmanovic [SER] 6-1, 7-6 (4)
1 / 8th lap: beats David Goffin [BEL] 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (9)

Ideal return to clay for Nadal: the best moments of his victory against Kecmanovic

Carlos Alcaraz

1st round: exempted
2nd round: defeats Nikoloz Basilashvili [GEO] 6-3, 7-5
1/8 finals: beats Cameron Norrie [GBR/N.9] 6-4, 6-7 (4), 6-3

They said

Rafael Nadal: “A new rivalry with Carlos? No no no. I don’t think he will go that far. I am already 36 years old (next June 3, ed). “

Carlos Alcaraz:I don’t know how we can beat Rafa. I always say he has 1000 lives. He looks like he dies and then survives every tough game. But if I play well, I have my chances. “

Three statistics to remember

7. For the first time in the history of the Madrid tournament, seven of the top eight seeded are in the quarter-finals. A tempting set that obviously includes Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz, seeded 3 and 7 respectively.

14. This is the number of games Carlos Alcaraz has played since his last duel against Rafael Nadal. He won 13, his elimination at the entrance to Monte-Carlo was his only misadventure. He stays on seven hits. Nadal has only played three games since then, including two in the past two days.

78. This is the time in minutes that the first duel in Madrid between the two men lasted almost a year ago until the day, or 1h18. It would be surprising if Nadal was so quick this time around. In Indian Wells it took the two Spaniards almost another two hours to decide. A new marathon in perspective?

Our opinion

On clay it is always difficult to bet on Rafael Nadal, especially when he faces an opponent who has never beaten him. But circumstances are special in Madrid for several reasons. First, the altitude makes the balls more difficult to control and the game faster, which suits the Majorcan less. Thus, it is a week of recovery for the person who, logically, suffers from the lack of competition after six weeks of forced rest.

Despite his fickleness, Alcaraz and his flashes got the better of Norrie: the recap

Passing very close to the corrective against David Goffin, Nadal shone with his inconstancy, alternating between impressive sequences and occasional dips in intensity. By the time he turns 36, he may also encounter some difficulty in recovering from his efforts over the past couple of days, as he confided at a press conference. If his level of play is already more than correct, he is making many more mistakes than usual and is aiming for a return to the top in the medium term. This quarter-final in front of the Spanish public therefore represents a golden opportunity for Carlos Alcaraz to take revenge for the lesson he suffered last year.

He undoubtedly has the weapons to take down his eldest son, especially since the latter is more vulnerable than in California, where the battle was suspended a few weeks ago. But he will have to show more patience and control than at the start of his tournament. His nervousness in him can play tricks on him, but if he approaches the match without complex, then the third attempt may be the right one.

Our prediction: Carlos Alcaraz in three sets.

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