Tuesday saw Carlos Alcaraz commence his assault on the Caja Mágica. The Spaniard beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-3, 7-5 in a very special match in which he took his first step in this year’s Mutua Madrid Open campaign. On the verge of his 19th birthday, the Murcia native showed that he is already a huge attraction for the Spanish fans, who spurred him on on a magical night in the Spanish capital.
“I’m very happy to have got through the match”, said Alcaraz. “He was a very difficult player who hits the ball very hard. There weren’t many rallies and I had to maintain the tempo from start to finish. At the start of each set I struggled a little but we came through it”.
Juan Carlos Ferrero’s pupil had to work hard in an entertaining match, coming back from a break down in both sets to seal the win. His big hitting opponent, who was able to compete at altitude and under the roof, perfect conditions for an aggressive game, was unable to stop the Spaniard.
“I’m a player who fights until the final point”, explained Carlos, who thrilled the fans with some stunning points. “The spirit of fighting for every point means I have these kinds of rallies. It’s incredible that everyone stood up and cheered me on after a good point”.
On a Tuesday evening, close to midnight, almost 10,000 people were on hand to watch the teenager play his opener. The gesture did not go unnoticed by Alcaraz himself, who was grateful for the affection he received.
“I felt the support of the people. I’ve felt affection from all the fans in the Caja Mágica. I feel lucky to experience moments like this and that the people love me so much”.
“I’m speechless. After waiting all day, for all the people to stay to watch my match and support me until the end is something I’m so grateful for. A while back, I wouldn’t have believed that so many people at this time on a Tuesday were watching my match”.
Alcaraz is now en route to clash with some more experienced players. The Spaniard will face Cameron Norrie or John Isner in the round of sixteen, both of whom have won tournaments in the ATP Tour’s top category. The challenge, though, is exactly what the young Spaniard wants; to play the best and become one of them.