Alcaraz beats Djokovic and Nadal to win Madrid as Raducanu and Murray suffer setbacks

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Last week’s Madrid Open was full of excitement as records were broken, history was made and new champions were crowned. Carlos Alcaraz became the youngest man to lift the title on Sunday and the first man ever to beat Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal back-to-back on clay during the “best week of his life”.

Ons Jabeur continued to make history as the first African woman to win a WTA 1000 tournament when she defeated Jessica Pegula to lift the biggest title of her career on Saturday, making it two first-time champions in Madrid.

It was also a historic week for the Brits in Madrid, with four men reaching the second-round and three making the third-round of a clay Masters for the first time. Andy Murray was one of the three and was set to face Djokovic for the first time in three years but was struck by an illness that saw him pull out of both Madrid and Rome. And he wasn’t the only Brit to suffer a setback in Madrid, as Emma Raducanu said she was dealing with a bad back after crashing out to Anhelina Kalinina in the third round.

Express Sport takes a look at the biggest stories from on and off the court at the Madrid Open.

Alcaraz downs Djokovic and Nadal to make history

Alcaraz proved exactly why he is the hottest name in tennis right now as he lived up to his hype and managed to beat Djokovic and Nadal back-to-back to make the final in Madrid, where he needed just 62 minutes to roll through defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-3 6-1 to lift the title.

The new world No 6 had never beaten Nadal and was facing him exactly 366 days after their first meeting, in which Alcaraz won just three games on his 18th birthday as the 120th-ranked wildcard making his Masters 1000 debut. He came into the tournament as a different man and managed to overcome an ankle injury he picked up in the second set to defeat his idol 6-2 1-6 6-3.

The following day it was a first meeting with the world No 1, and the teenager came through a three hour and 35 minute marathon to send the three-time former champion packing with a 6-7(5) 7-5 7-6(5) victory. He became the first man ever to beat the two players back-to-back on a clay court, and the youngest to beat them anywhere. Alcaraz was also the first man to beat the top three seeds at the same tournament in succession since David Nalbandian ousted Federer, Nadal and Djokovic en route to the Madrid title in 2007.

JUST IN: Nadal already in Rome as he forgets Alcaraz loss before French Open

Raducanu and Murray struck by injury and illness

The Madrid Open started off well for both Raducanu and Murray, with the 19-year-old dropping just nine games en-route to the third-round and the three-time Major champion getting wins over former world No 3 Dominic Thiem and 14th seed Denis Shapovalov.

He was then set for a 37th meeting with his old rival Djokovic in the third round in what would have been their first match since the Dubai 2017 final, but Murray was forced to pull out shortly before their long-awaited clash on Thursday with illness, then withdrawing from Rome qualifying the following day.

After Raducanu’s 6-2 2-6 6-4 loss to Kalinina, she revealed that she had been struggling with a back injury and thought she had just a “five per cent” chance to win the match going into it. “I was struggling a bit with my back. I went into the match with it. Throughout the week I have been carrying some niggles, and it’s kind of just taking its toll, all of the matches at this kind of level,” she admitted.

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Jabeur makes history with biggest title yet

Jabeur got a long-awaited WTA 1000 title after reaching four quarter-finals and one semi-final at 1000-point level in the past. But it wasn’t like a landmark victory for the world No 7, who is now back to her career high, but a milestone in Arab and African tennis.

The Tunisian became the first Arab or African player ever to win a WTA 1000 title, and is well aware of the legacy she is creating in the Middle East, as her psychologist Melanie Maillard told The National: “She is someone very strong and she knows what she has to do and why and each time she goes on court she has to remember that this is bigger than her but that she can take this responsibility.”

Organisers come under fire for scheduling

The Madrid Open tournament organisers were slammed for their scheduling on women’s finals day as the championship match between Jabeur and Pegula was scheduled for 6.30pm local time, despite Djokovic and Alcaraz’s semi-final given a 4pm slot earlier in the day. The women’s final started around two hours late, prompting the likes of Mark Petchey and Catherine Whitaker on Amazon Prime to slam the treatment of the women’s final as an afterthought.

It also meant the second men’s semi-final between Zverev and Alcaraz got underway shortly before midnight and finished close to 1am, and the two-time former champion slammed organisers after losing the final to Alcaraz less than 24 hours later. Praising the 19-year-old and saying he didn’t want to “take anything away” from Alcaraz’s win, the German also said: “I had absolutely no chance today of being myself. I had absolutely no chance of playing my level. This is not the first time this is happening. I mean, in Acapulco I played until 5am. I played until 5am I was awake until 8.30am. This is happening on a weekly basis, and to be honest, I’m a little bit tired of it.”

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