Carlos Alcaraz rejoices after beating Novak Djokovic in the Madrid semifinals
Carlos Alcaraz is the man of the moment, beating Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in consecutive matches. The 19-year-old toppled World No. 1 Djokovic in a pulsating third-set tie-break on Saturday to reach the Madrid Masters final.
Alcaraz drew first blood, grabbing an early break, but Djokovic got back on serve to take the first set on a tie-break. The teenager showed admirable composure in the second, recovering from within two points of defeat as a third set ensued.
In a hotly contested decider, neither player blinked on serve before Alcaraz got an all-important mini-break in the tie-break to close out the biggest victory of his career. A day after beating his idol Rafael Nadal in a three-set quarterfinal, Alcaraz became only the seventh player to beat Nadal and Djokovic (not necessarily in that order) in consecutive matches at the same tournament.
On that note, here’s a look at the exclusive septet:
#7 Carlos Alcaraz (2022 Madrid)
Carlos Alcaraz at the Mutua Madrid Open – Day 10
Carlos Alcaraz is on a tear, winning 27 of his 30 matches this season, racking up titles in Rio de Janeiro, Miami and Barcelona.
Continuing his hot streak in Madrid, the World No. 9 floored five-time winner Rafael Nadal to become the first teenager to beat the King of Clay on the red dirt. Only a day later, he scaled more landmarks by beating top seed Novak Djokovic in the semis.
Alcaraz became the youngest player to beat a reigning World No. 1 in nearly two decades since a 18-year-old Richard Gasquet beat Roger Federer at the 2005 Monte-Carlo Masters, also in a third-set tie-break.
Alcaraz will square off against Alexander Zverev in the Madrid final on Sunday as he seeks his fourth title of the year and fifth overall.
#6 Roger Federer (2010 ATP Finals)
Roger Federer at the ATP World Tour Finals – Day Eight
Roger Federer has had a storied rivalry with his Big 3 peers – Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Although he has met both players in consecutive matches at the same tournament on multiple occasions, Federer has beaten both at the same event only once. It happened at the 2010 ATP Finals at The O2 in London.
After a 6-1, 6-4 win over Djokovic in the semis, Federer beat the King of Clay in a three-set final to win his fifth ATP Finals title.
Almost a decade later, Federer would come close to repeating that feat. At 2019 Wimbledon, Federer beat Nadal in the semis and arrived at 8-7, 40-15 on serve deep in the fifth set against Djokovic in the final. However, the Swiss blinked as both championship points went begging before Djokovic triumphed in a historic first-ever deciding-set tie-break at the grasscourt Major.
#5 Robin Soderling (2009 ATP Finals)
ATP World Tour Finals – Day Seven
Robin Soderling was on a roll in 2009. After handing Nadal his first-ever loss at Roland Garros before falling to Federer in the final, the Swede qualified for his first ATP Finals.
The then World No. 9 made a dream start to his campaign at the year-ending event, beating Nadal in straight sets before repeating the feat in his next match against Djokovic.
The Swede, though, lost to Juan Martin del Potro in straight sets in the semis after topping his group.
#4 Nikolay Davydenko (2009 Shanghai)
2009 Shanghai ATP Masters 1000 – Day 8
Nikolay Davydenko enjoyed one of the finest weeks of his career at the 2009 Shanghai Masters.
After beating Djokovic in a third-set tie-break in the semis, the Russian beat Nadal in straight sets to win his second Masters 1000 title. A few weeks later, he would win the biggest title of his career at the season-ending ATP Finals, beating Juan Martin del Potro in the final.
Interestingly, Nadal ended up on the losing side in his second Shanghai final in 2017, losing to Federer for the fourth time that year.
#3 Andy Roddick (2008 Dubai)
Andy Roddick beat Nadal and Djokovic en route to the 2008 Dubai title
Andy Roddick had a fine run in Dubai in 2008. The former World No. 1 dropped his only set of the week in the final against Feliciano Lopez en route to his first title in the desert city.
Along the way, Roddick floored Djokovic and Nadal in straight sets. After beating the King of Clay 7-6(5), 6-2 in the last eight, the American meted out the same treatment to Djokovic to reach his second final of the year.
Roddick would close the year with titles in San Jose, Dubai and Beijing, losing in the final in Los Angeles.
#2 David Ferrer (2007 ATP Finals)
David Ferrer at the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai – Finals
David Ferrer made an inspired run to the 2007 ATP Tour Finals (then called the Tennis Masters Cup).
He opened his campaign at the season-ending tournament with a straight-sets win over Djokovic before dropping a set against compatriot Nadal in a three-set victory. Ferrer would win his next two matches for the loss of just two games to storm into the final.
However, the Spaniard’s inspired run was halted by World No. 1 Roger Federer in straight sets.
It was Ferrer’s only defeat in a tournament final that year after wins in Auckland, Bastad and Tokyo.
#1 David Nalbandian (2007 Madrid)
David Nalbandian enjoyed the best week of his career at the 2007 Madrid Masters
David Nalbandian enjoyed the best week of his career at the 2007 Madrid Masters. The Argentine struggled in the first few rounds, saving match points in his first three matches before hitting top gear.
After dismantling Nadal for the loss of just three games in the quarterfinals, Nalbandian notched up his only victory over Djokovic to storm into the final. A magical week got even better when he recovered from a set down to floor top seed Roger Federer to win his first Masters 1000 title.
In the process, he became the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic in back-to-back matches and complete an unprecedented clean sweep of the Big 3.
A week after his exploits on the hardcourts of Madrid, Nalbandian would beat Federer and Nadal (not in consecutive matches) to win his second Masters 1000 title in Paris.