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Carlos Alcaraz certainly knows what it means to be a top player. He’s further solidified his status as one of the best in today’s game by beating two of the of the greatest of all-time to reach the final at the Mutua Madrid Open.

After beating his idol Rafael Nadal on Friday and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic on Saturday, Alcaraz described both days as two of the best of his life. In his post-match press conference after his win over the Serbian, he explained what he felt was the key to those victories.

“As I have always said, you have to try to go for the match,” he began. “In those decisive moments is when you see the good players and the top players, that is where you can tell the difference between a good player and a top player, like Djokovic, Rafa, [Roger] Federer, or all the players that are ultimately there for a long time.”

Alcaraz showed no fear in a match of razor-thing margins against Djokovic, staying aggressive throughout and overcoming a lost match point before the decisive tie-break in a comeback 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) result.

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“I want to make a difference on that. I want to make a difference, because in those key, decisive matches, I want to go for the match,” he said. “If I play aggressive or if I lose, I’m going to leave with the feeling that I have come for the match and I just let it go. I will try to have to improve, doing better, but at least I leave the court with the feeling, well, I tried to go for it, I was trying it, and that’s what I was thinking on the tie-break. I just want to step in and go for the match, whatever happens.”

The Spaniard, who turned 19 on Thursday, has enjoyed a meteoric rise over the last 12 months, thanks in large part to that champion’s mentality. He did his best to explain his progress from one year ago in Madrid, when he was easily dispatched by Rafael Nadal, yet to break into the Top 100 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

“Honestly, I would say that I am more mature to manage the tough moments, the nerves, to manage everything on court. I think I am able to play long rallies,” he said.

“I’m ready to play against this kind of player.”

Already an ATP Masters 1000 champion following is title run at the Miami Open presented by Itau, Alcaraz is now one win away from a Spanish double following his Barcelona title last month. 

“It’s probably one of the best days of my career, of my life, without doubts,” he said after becoming the youngest man to beat a World No. 1 since Nadal beat Roger Federer at Roland Garros in 2005. “But I don’t know what to answer really. Probably in some time or maybe tomorrow I can even tell you tomorrow it really is my best day of my life.”

He awaits the winner of Saturday’s second semi-final between Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.


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