ATP Madrid Final Prediction: Carlos Alcaraz vs Alexander Zverev
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It’s been an incredible week of tennis in Madrid and we have one more match to determine the champion: Carlos Alcaraz vs Alexander Zverev
Will the young Spaniard continue his nine-match winning streak or will Zverev pick up another Masters 1000 title in the Spanish capital?
Words cannot describe how well Carlos Alcaraz has played in recent weeks. In the quarterfinals of Madrid, Alcaraz took down Rafael Nadal and now, in the semifinals, Alcaraz beat Novak Djokovic. Alcaraz won 74% of his first serves against Djokovic, impressive given the Serb’s returning prowess. And the young Spaniard only got broken once all match in the 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) victory.
Alexander Zverev won the title in Madrid last season and he’s continued his good form in the Spanish capital this week. Zverev won his semifinal match over Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-4, 3-6, 6-2. Zverev has served very well in Madrid and this continued in the semifinals, when Zverev won 83% of his first-serve points and faced only two break points all match.
Zverev leads the head to head 2-0, however, they haven’t played since Alcaraz had his breakthrough this season. Alcaraz is doing an excellent job of controlling the baseline this week and he will push Zverev back behind the baseline and direct many balls to the weaker Zverev forehand. And Alcaraz’s backhand is good enough to hold its own when Zverev targets that wing.
Alcaraz has much better variety than Zverev and disguises his drop shots very well. Zverev will need to have a lot of aces and unreturned serves, as once the rally begins, Alcaraz has the clear edge. Alcaraz has incredible foot speed too, so Zverev will have to go for very fine margins to hit through the Spaniard.
The Caja Magica has proved a fitting name for the Mutua Madrid Open venue this week, with home favourite Carlos Alcaraz embarking on a magical run to the final at the ATP Masters 1000 event. After beating Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic for the first time to set up a title tilt against defending champion Alexander Zverev, the 19-year-old seeks his first win in three tries against the German on Sunday.
Should Alcaraz take the title Sunday, he will move to second place in the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin, just 70 points behind Nadal, making it highly likely that he will eventually qualify for the year-end Nitto ATP Finals.
Before the singles final, Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah will take on in-form duo Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski for the doubles crown.
Zverev holds a 2-0 ATP Head2Head advantage over Alcaraz following a pair of dominant hard-court victories last season in Acapulco and Vienna. But the Spaniard has reached a stratospheric level in recent months, winning three ATP Tour titles and compiling a 5-2 record against Top 10 opponents.
Alcaraz enters the final with a 27-3 record on the season, level with Stefanos Tsitsipas for the most in the ATP Tour, while Zverev is not far behind at 21-7.
The 19-year-old is undefeated in his four previous tour-level finals, and on Sunday can become the youngest five-time champion since Nadal won seven titles by the same age in 2004-05. All that success made Alcaraz the newest member of the Top 10 himself entering this week, and his final run has lifted three more places to No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.
But Zverev has proven to be the man to beat in Madrid, and will enter the final with a 19-2 record as a two-time champion in the Spanish capital (2018, 2021). Still, he downplayed his chances in the final against the red-hot fan favourite after seeing him take out Nadal and Djokovic in succession.
"Nothing that surprises me," Zverev said of those results, "because I know how good he is. I said last year in Acapulco that by 2023 he's going to be Top 10. He beat me by a year. There's nothing more to say. He's an incredible player. He's going to be incredible. At 19 years old now, he looks like a grown man. To be honest, there's no limit for him."
Alcaraz did not know his final opponent after getting past Djokovic in the first semi-final, but was already making his recovery plans when he spoke with the press following that match. Not only will the Spaniard have to recover physically following that three-hour, 35-minute battle, he must reset mentally after defeating two tennis legends in as many days.
"After today's match, of course with my team, with my family, we are going to have a great time to enjoy the moment. But I think that tomorrow I'm going to play a final of a really big tournament, and tonight I'm going to be very focussed to be able to recover and to [play] as best as possible for tomorrow's match."
Zverev also went three sets in the semis, against Tsitsipas, but needed less than two hours to advance in relatively dominant fashion. Despite the shorter match time, Zverev did not wrap up the win until near 1 a.m. due to a late start. Nonetheless, he said post-match that he planned to return to the court to practise ahead ahead of facing his "toughest opponent of the week" in the final. He did the same after a late quarter-final finish against Felix Auger-Aliassime and has made a habit of post-match practises in recent times.