The Mutua Madrid Open Masters Final was a disappointment for the neutrals expecting a close encounter but not for Carlos Alcaraz supporters who packed the Manolo Santana Court in the Caja Magica where he crushed the defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-1 in just 62-minutes.
I really want to go to Paris to win a Grand Slam, to show my level in a Grand Slam. Carlos Alcaraz
It certainly was a one-sided affair as the Spanish teenager dominated the play and left the German floundering, confused, frustrated and any confidence he had in his game, ebbing away.
In fact, Zverev later apologised to the crowd for his ‘poor tennis’ while admitting that Alcaraz had definitely arrived and had very bright future.
The two-time Madrid champion didn’t blame the scheduling for his loss, but it must have contributed to his lackless performance.
On Friday the German finished his quarterfinal after midnight, while on Saturday, he didn’t finish his semi-final until after 1.00am local time.
“The ATP’s job was an absolute disgrace this week,” the world No. 3 said in his press conference after the closing ceremony.
“Two days ago I went to bed at 4:00, 4:30 a.m. Yesterday I went to bed at 5:20 a.m.
“You know, if any normal person goes to bed one night at 4:00 a.m., the next night at 5:00 a.m., it will be a tough time just to be awake for them.
“Even if I’m fresh, probably I would not beat Carlos, but definitely (it) would be a better match.”
And it wasn’t the first time that he had had to bear the brunt of bad scheduling – in Acapulco he was forced to play until 5.00am!
”I’m also human. I’m not a robot. I can’t. I simply cannot be on my level when this is happening every night.”
But he reiterated his post-match comments that Alcaraz was the “best player in the world right now”.
“I don’t take anything away from Carlos,” he added.
“At the end of the day, if you are playing the best players in the world, you have to be at your top. Otherwise, you will have no chance. Today I had no chance.”
Well, he did have a chance in the first game of the Final when he failed to convert the only break point he was able to raise. Had he done so, it could well have been a different match though it is unlikely that he would have succeeded in defending his title.
So, while the Final didn’t live up to expectations and generate the ambience and febrile atmosphere of his previous two matches, Alcaraz did produce a series of mouth-watering shots off the baseline, around the net and on the run to satisfy the legion of fans he is quickly attracting.
And the luckless Zverev had no answers in what was their third meeting, having easily defeated the teenager last year in their previous two encounters.
He has certainly matured quickly in tennis terms for last year he was ranked 120 on the eve of the Madrid Masters and on Monday, he will have risen to sixth in the world having arrived in the Spanish capital ranked 9 with four titles to his credit including the Miami Masters! Not bad for a 19-year-old who with this latest success, becomes a favourite for the French Open in a few weeks time.
And that is his next goal. “I really want to prove my level in a Grand Slam,” he said during his post-match press conference. “I really want to go to Paris to win a Grand Slam, to show my level in a Grand Slam.”
“People are going to take me as a favourite, but I take that as motivation.”
Alcaraz revealed he had decided to miss the Rome Masters which starts Monday to give himself time to fully recover from the twisted ankle he suffered in his quarterfinal against Rafa Nadal.
“This morning, because of the fall against Rafa, I woke up with a more swollen ankle and I also had a blister that had become infected,” he said.
“It was a little difficult to walk, but… we were able to do a few things to be at 100 percent for the match.”
Earlier on court he told fans: “It feels great to be able to beat these players. To beat two of the best players in history and then Zverev, the World No. 3. He is a great player. I would say this is the best week of my life.
“I am 19 years old, which I think is the key to be able to play long and tough matches in a row. I am feeling great physically.”
And Zverev, swallowing his disappointment, told the crowd what they already believe: “It’s great to see for tennis, that we have such a new superstar who is going to win so many Grand Slams and is going to be world No.1 and I think is going to win this tournament many more times!”
The German also confirmed that despite his loss, he still loved Madrid and the court remained his favourite.
“This tournament is special for me because it’s the first tournament I watched when I was seven or eight,” Alcaraz said.
“Watching Rafa lift this trophy so often, gave me a lot of power to work hard for this moment.”
But he knows he can improve which must worry his future opponents.
“I still have to improve in everything,” he added on what he described as the best day of his life. “I have very good shots, but they can be improved and can be much better.”