Novak Djokovic brands Carlos Alcaraz ‘special’ ahead of Madrid Open showdown

Novak Djokovic reacts to his media coverage in February

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Novak Djokovic described tennis starlet Carlos Alcaraz as ‘special’ ahead of the pair’s Madrid Open semi-final on Saturday. Alcaraz has already seen off one of the sport’s greatest ever players, after defeating hero, and fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the quarter-final.

The 19-year-old saw off the 21-time Grand Slam champion 6-2 1-6 6-3 in the all-Spanish showdown. Things aren’t set to get any easier for tennis’ rising star as he now has to take on world No.1 Djokovic for a spot in the final of the Madrid event.

Ahead of the clash, it seems the Serbian star is more than aware of the talent his opponent possesses, as he heaped praise on the teenager. Djokovic said: “There are many things that are special about him. In the last decades, we have had some incredible champions [as teenagers] like Michael Chang. 

“But, nowadays, we’re not used to seeing someone who is a teenager and already breaks into the top 10 and plays at such a high level. His growth, his improvement and his trajectory, especially in the last six months, have been incredible.”

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Praising Alcaraz away from the court, he added: “He is a very nice guy off the court. I had the opportunity to train with him and spend a little time off the court with him here in Madrid, and I must say that on all fronts, he is great on and off the court.”

Djokovic has no doubt played his part in a period of unprecedented success within the sport with tennis’ so called ‘big three – Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer – dominating the sport. Djokovic believes it is good to see a player like Alcaraz upsetting the apple cart.

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Djokovic said: “I love watching him play, like many other players on tour. I praise his game without a doubt. It’s fantastic for our sport, without a doubt. I think it’s fantastic that we have a young player who is doing so well and who is breathing new life into the world of tennis.”

Alcaraz is heading into the clash brimming with confidence, after dismantling his childhood hero during their last eight clash. Following victory he said: “It means a lot to me. All the hard work I put in every day has paid off. To beat Rafa, the best player in history on clay, it means a lot.”

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