We thought that world No. 9 Carlos Alcaraz might be a little sore from rolling his ankle in his win over world No. 4 Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, but the 19-year-old looked as fresh as can be during his gripping, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) win over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in the semis. Now, Alcaraz will look to win back-to-back clay-court titles, and his second Masters 1000 title of the season, against two-time Mutua Madrid Open champion and world No. 3 Alexander Zverev.

This will be the third meeting between these two players, with Zverev 2-0 against the surging Spaniard. This has, however, been a week of firsts for Alcaraz, who had never defeated Nadal or Djokovic before this weekend. He has also improved drastically since his last battle with Zverev, as that match came in Vienna back in October 2021. This year’s version of Alcaraz is a heck of a lot better than last year’s; the 19-year-old is arguably the best player on the planet right now.


Djokovic learned the hard way on Saturday that there just aren’t any holes in Alcaraz’s game. The Spaniard might be the best mover on the entire tour, and he also possesses elite groundstrokes from both sides. On top of that, the teenager is also able to get just below the 140-m.p.h. mark with his first serve. With all of those traits—combined with an unflappable on-court mentality—opponents need to play perfect tennis in order to defeat him, if he's on his game. The same can’t be said for Zverev, who occasionally battles the yips with his second serve, and also has stretches in which he can rack up unforced errors. Any of those setbacks would doom him against Alcaraz.

The Spaniard also happens to have a huge advantage in this match because of the tournament’s odd Saturday schedule. Whereas Alcaraz played the early semifinal, Zverev earned his win over world No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas after the women’s final. It was very late for the two of them to have to go out and play what was a tiring three-set match. With this being an midday final, it’s entirely possible that Zverev will be a bit lethargic when he takes the court here. That’s the last thing you want to be in a match-up with Alcaraz, who will move Zverev around the court as much as possible and has the ability to run for days himself.

Overall, it’s hard to see Zverev being the one to deny Alcaraz after the way in which the 19-year-old disposed of two legends in back-to-back days. This seems like Alcaraz’s tournament to lose, and he should have no trouble covering the game spread.

The Pick: Alcaraz -2.5 Games (-115)