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Carlos Alcaraz’s keys to beating Nadal, Djokovic: 'You have to try to go for the match'
Now 8-2 against Top 10 players and with four titles this season, the Spanish teenager was asked about his approach to these big contests.
Published May 09, 2022
WATCH: Carlos Alcaraz speaks with the media after winning the 2022 Mutua Madrid Open final
Most players are offered advice when they're as young as Carlos Alcaraz, but he's already giving it.
And no wonder—since turning 19 this week, the Spanish teenager has achieved the rare feat of getting back-to-back wins against Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Now 8-2 against Top 10 players and with four ATP titles this season, he was asked about his approach to these big contests.
"You have to try to go for the match," he told press at the Mutua Madrid Open following his win against Djokovic in the semifinals. "In those decisive moments, that is where you can tell the difference between a good player and a top player, [whether] it's Djokovic, Rafa, [Roger] Federer, or all the players that are ultimately there for a long time.
"I want to make a difference… In those key, decisive matches, I want to go for the match."
That's especially important against top players like those legends, added Alcaraz.
"These kinds of players, if you allow them to dominate the match, you're going to be running around the court all the time," he said.
The recent Miami Open champion also talked about the difference between playing Nadal and Djokovic, having defeated his compatriot 6-1, 2-6, 6-3 during their quarterfinal meeting but having come from behind to win 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) against Djokovic in the semifinals.
"I think to be able to beat Rafa you need to have a really good backhand, and I think that yesterday I had a perfect match backhand-wise, playing aggressively," said Alcaraz. "Rafa attacks a lot to your backhand with his forehand. And then with the altitude here, I think that being aggressive with the backhand is one of the keys to be able to beat Rafa."
Against Djokovic, Alcaraz had to concentrate on improving his returning when behind and find the right moments to take the offensive.
"I have just tried to step in for all of it. The opportunities, perhaps I have not gone 100 percent for all of them," he said. "I think that the key has been to be aggressive during all the match and consistent.
"I tried to change a little bit my game, to be able to read the distances, to be able to have a good feeling, to be able to return better. I think that little by little, I was able to achieve a good rhythm, to be able to return better, putting pressure with my return. But what I was thinking is that little by little, things were going to improve."
Alcaraz should move up another three spots from his current No. 9 position in the rankings. The 19-year-old recently announced his withdrawal from the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, as he eyes a maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros.