Alcaraz, Jabeur magical in Madrid

Spanish teen phenom and talented Tunisian reign supreme in the Spanish capital.

Carlos Alcaraz / Madrid 2022©Antoine Couvercelle / FFT
 - Reem Abulleil

An exciting 12 days of the Madrid Open came to a close on Sunday with Spanish sensation Carlos Alcaraz and dazzling Tunisian Ons Jabeur clinching the men's and women's titles.

Carlos puts on a show in the Magic Box

The Carlos Alcaraz show took Madrid by storm last week and it felt like everyone in the country made sure they caught a glimpse of the teen phenom, including the King of Spain himself, who was in the stands at the Caja Magica during Alcaraz’s quarter-final victory over Rafael Nadal.

The 19-year-old knocked out world No.4 Nadal, No.1 Novak Djokovic, and No.3 Alexander Zverev back-to-back-to-back en route to the Madrid title – his tour-leading fourth trophy of the season – and in doing so, became the youngest player since start of the ATP Tour in 1990 to defeat three top-five players at the same event.

No man has won more matches on tour so far this season, with Alcaraz at the summit of the leaderboard with a stunning 28-3 win-loss record in 2022.

He is on a 10-match winning streak, has reigned supreme at three of his last four tournaments, and will arrive to Roland-Garros as one of the favourites for the Coupe des Mousquetaires.

“For somebody of his age to play so maturely and courageously is impressive,” Djokovic said of Alcaraz after their semi-final showdown in Madrid.

Zverev described Alcaraz as the best player in the world right now, but the Spanish world No.6 is not giving too much credence to such statements, while maintaining his level of confidence in his game.

“I consider myself a player that's playing very well. You know, as the numbers speak by themselves, I think that I'm doing it quite well on clay right now,” said Alcaraz, who is 16-1 on clay in 2022.

“You learn a lot from defeats. I think this is a clear example. I lost in the first round of Monte-Carlo, and I learned from that defeat and I started to train for Barcelona and Madrid. I consider that I am playing very, very well, and I think that I am a tough opponent for the other players.”

Jabeur reaches new heights

The tennis world always knew Ons Jabeur was a phenomenal talent; now they know she’s a phenomenal talent that can sweep big titles and contend at the majors.

The Tunisian made a huge statement by lifting the trophy in Madrid, claiming the biggest title of her career and becoming the first Arab or North African player to win a WTA 1000 tournament.

The 27-year-old, who is back to her career-high ranking of No.7 in the world, went on a revenge tour in the Spanish capital, taking out the likes of ex-world No.1 Simona Halep, Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, and the powerful Ekaterina Alexandrova – all players who had defeated her recently or on multiple occasions.

In the championship match on Saturday, she overcame an in-form Jessica Pegula 7-5, 0-6, 6-2, exorcising some final demons along the way, as she improved her record in finals to 2-4.

Jabeur does not have much time to celebrate her milestone victory as she has already arrived in Rome where she kicks off her campaign on Tuesday against Romanian Sorana Cirstea.

Her Madrid triumph seems to have made her even hungrier to keep going and she says it gave her belief that she is ready to win a Grand Slam.

“I know in my head that the main goal is really Roland-Garros, to be ready for that,” Jabeur, a junior champion on Parisian clay in 2011, told reporters in Rome on Monday.

“I'd like to know how to manage the back-to-back weeks from Madrid to Rome. I know great players, great champions, great legends, they do it. It's another challenge for me as well right now, is to know how to handle that three weeks. To be able to be ready physically for it, mentally for it, it's another challenge for me.

“I hope I can really dig deep in this one again because if I learn how to manage these two tournaments, I may be able to be even more ready to win a Grand Slam, you know?

“It's part of my journey. It's part of the challenge to understand how this is working. You know, I'm just still learning right now. I hope this tournament will start really well for me.”