Carlos Alcaraz is no longer allowing nerves to get the better of him and said that he is ready to regularly go toe-to-toe with the top players after the Spaniard rallied past world number one Novak Djokovic to reach the Madrid Open final on Saturday.
The 19-year-old prevailed 6-7(5) 7-5 7-6(5) over the Serbian in an absorbing contest that lasted more than three hours, becoming the first player to beat Djokovic and Rafa Nadal at the same claycourt event.
Alcaraz was ranked 120 in the world just a year ago but has climbed into the top 10 on the back of three titles this season.
Asked what was different about his game now, Alcaraz said: “I would say that I am more mature to manage the tough moments, the nerves, everything. I mean, to manage everything on court. Well, I think I am able to play long rallies.”
In a see-saw clash that could have gone either way, Alcaraz used his aggression to great effect as he smashed a series of winners past Djokovic in the tie-break to take the match and set up a meeting with Alexander Zverev on Sunday.
“As I have always said, you have to try to go for the match. In those decisive moments is when you see the good players and the top players, I want to make a difference on that,” added Alcaraz, who will move up to sixth when the new rankings are released on Monday.
“I feel ready to compete against them (Djokovic and Nadal) in every single tournament, on every single surface. In a Grand Slam, it’s completely different. I think that when you have to play best-of-five sets… but I think that I am ready.”
Victory against Zverev will give Alcaraz a second ATP Masters 1000 crown following his triumph in Miami earlier this year.