Alexander Zverev plays down Carlos Alcaraz chances and makes bold Rafael Nadal comparison
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Alexander Zverev has played down his chances of defeating Carlos Alcaraz in the Madrid Open final as the defending champion claimed the 19-year-old would take over ownership of the court in Madrid after Rafael Nadal’s dominance at the tournament. Nadal has won the event five times while Alcaraz will be bidding for his first title at the clay-court Masters 1000.
Zverev will take on Alcaraz for a third time in their careers, holding a 2-0 winning record over the teenager, but he has downplayed his chance of outlasting the seventh seed this time around following Alcaraz’s back-to-back wins over Djokovic and Nadal in the last two rounds. Alcaraz’s victories saw him become the first man in history to beat them in succession on the clay – and Zverev admitted he “wasn’t surprised” at the seventh seed’s huge victories.
The German himself is a big fan of the conditions in Madrid, having won the tournament twice including last year, but admitted he was no match for five-time champion Nadal or the man he thought would become his heir to success on the Manolo Santana stadium. “I have been playing well, so I’m just renting it,” he laughed after defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-final.
“It’s going to be his [Alcaraz’s] court for the next 15 years probably. It has been Rafa’s court for the past 15 years and it’s going to be his court for the next 15 years.” Zverev also returned to the practice court at around 1.15am after his late-night victory over Tsitsipas to practice his second serve before facing who he said would be his “toughest opponent of the week.”
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While the reigning champion continued to speak about Alcaraz as though he was the favourite, Zverev was also happy with his performances in his last two rounds against Tsitsipas and Felix Auger-Aliassime after playing what he thought was his “worst match in six years” as his most recent tournament in Munich. “I thought from yesterday [Friday] onwards I started to play really well,” he claimed.
“I’m just extremely happy to be in the final here. I know it’s going to be an extremely tough match but I hope I can manage to play my best and give myself a chance. I just hope I can give him some trouble and I hope I can manage to win.”
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Zverev also said he predicted Alcaraz’s ascent into the world top 10 during the 2021 Mexico Open, but admitted the four-time title winner had exceeded his expectations and done it a whole year early. The 25-year-old’s prediction came after he defeated a then-17-year-old, world No 132 Alcaraz 6-3 6-1 en route to the title in Acapulco last year.
“I said it last year in Acapulco, I said by 2023 in Acapulco he’s going to be top 10 and beat me by a year, there’s nothing more to say. He’s an incredible player, he’s going to be incredible. 19-years-old now, he looks like a grown man so to be honest there’s no limit for him.”
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