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Alcaraz beats Nadal: what is Carlos Alcaraz’s world ranking?

The 19-year-old Spaniard beat his idol Rafa Nadal at the Madrid Open and will face Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, assuring a bump in his ranking.

Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal after their quarter final match at the Madrid Masters.

Novak Djokovic noted ahead of a potential semi-final against Rafa Nadal at the Madrid Open that there is no greater challenge in sport than facing the Spaniard on clay. It is an opinion often voiced in the world of tennis and beyond, given that Nadal’s record on his favoured surface is so utterly demoralizing for opponents. The Spaniard has a win-loss record of 464-43 on clay, where 62 of his 91 overall career titles have been won. He has 13 Roland Garros triumphs and has only been beaten three times in the best-of-five format on the red dirt. Nadal has also never been beaten in consecutive games on clay and holds the longest winning streak on any surface in the Open Era of 81 straight clay-court wins between 2005 and 2007. And yet, in just a second meeting with the King of Clay, the young pretender, Carlos Alcaraz, achieved the most difficult challenge in sport by knocking out the world number four at the ATP Masters event in three sets, 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.

Alcaraz to rise to seven in the ATP ranking

Alcaraz has risen swiftly up the ranking to nine in the world after his breakthrough performance at the US Open last year, where he reached the quarter-finals, and he took Nadal to three sets on the hard courts of Indian Wells in March. Alcaraz’s win-loss record and clay and hard courts, respectively, suggested a slight preference for the latter, and he picked up a first Masters title on the surface at Miami earlier this year. However, in April he surged to the Barcelona title in the absence of Nadal and in doing so became the youngest player to break into the top 10 since his boyhood idol did so in 2005. After beating Nadal for the first time, Alcaraz will rise to at least number seven in the ATP ranking next week.

There are, as always with Nadal, caveats: the world number four has been out of action for six weeks with a rib injury and said he was using the tournament largely as a way of honing his game for the French Open in a three weeks’ time. The world number four had few expectations coming into Madrid and was almost knocked out in the previous round by David Goffin, saving four match points in an eventual 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 victory.

That said, Alcaraz holds a win-loss record of 23-2 in 2022, suggesting this was certainly no accident, and even a half-fir Nadal never gives anything away, or surrenders a single point lightly. Alcaraz played well and recovered from a nasty slip in the second set, turning his ankle and requiring medical attention, returning to the court with heavy strapping and a grimace. Nadal, for his part, now stands at 20-2 for the season, having lost in the final at Indian Wells against Taylor Fritz.

Can Alcaraz challenge Nadal at Roland Garros?

Alcaraz, who is coached by clay court specialist Juan Carlos Ferrero, a former Roland Garros champion himself, will now find himself among the favourites for the French Open title purely as a result of having beaten Nadal on clay. A lack of clay court specialists in the current top 20 certainly opens the door for a surprise but it would absolutely no shock to see Nadal march to a 14th Roland Garros title at a tournament where he has a win-loss record of 105-3. The eyes of the tennis world will be glued to a potential meeting of the two Spaniards in the second Grand Slam of the year, because if beating Nadal on clay is the biggest challenge in sport, beating him in five sets in Paris is practically tackling Everest in flip-flops.

In the meantime, Alcaraz faces another of tennis’ considerable obstacles – beating Novak Djokovic. The number one is no great fan of clay but is one of only two players – with Robin Söderling – to have climbed that Nadal-shaped mountain in Paris. If Alcaraz gets the better of Djokovic on Saturday, perhaps we can start considering a changing of the guard, one of the next-gen of Next-Gen players stepping up to the plate and pointing meaningfully beyond the court. But Djokovic, who like his old guard rival Nadal is showing few signs of letting up, will surely have something to say in the matter.


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