After earning the first win of his career over his idol, world No. 4 Rafael Nadal, world No. 9 Carlos Alcaraz will now look to defeat world No. 1 Novak Djokovic to advance to the finals of the Mutua Madrid Open. This is the first meeting between these two players, and it will be fascinating to watch. Along with Nadal, these are two of the true contenders to win the French Open. However, both of them will be looking to add some Masters 1000 gold first.

One thing that is hard to shake in this match-up is that Alcaraz twisted his ankle pretty badly in his win over Nadal last match. The 19-year-old went on to lose four games in a row after that injury in the second set, but he was able to collect himself and come through in the decider. Alcaraz was likely running on adrenaline in that third set, which allowed him to overcome the pain and earn one of the biggest wins of his career. But that ankle could easily swell up overnight, making it difficult for Alcaraz to move around the court as gracefully as he normally does. On top of that, the Spaniard could be in for something of an emotional letdown after finally overcoming a player he has admired for so long.


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When you factor in that Alcaraz might not be at his absolute best here, it’s hard not to view Djokovic as the player that is more likely to win this match. After all, we’re talking about one of the greatest players to ever play the sport, and the 20-time Grand Slam champion also happened to look really sharp in his win over world No. 14 Hubert Hurkacz last round. The Serbian earned a 6-3, 6-4 win in an hour and 22 minutes, and he should be feeling pretty fresh after having not played in the previous round, due to a walkover. A case can be made that Djokovic would have wanted to play that match because of his inactivity this season, but being the healthier, fitter player could be huge against a worn-down Alcaraz.

It should also be noted that Nadal hadn’t been playing all that well before running into the 19-year-old last round. Nadal nearly lost to David Goffin in his previous match, and he had just come off of a pretty lengthy break before arriving in Madrid. Despite the fact that Djokovic hasn’t played too much tennis recently, he’s arguably in better form than Nadal is at the moment.

Djokovic is also smart enough to exploit any weaknesses in his opponent to earn a victory. He won’t hesitate to try to test out Alcaraz’s ankle, and he’ll utilize some drop shots to get the youngster off balance. Had it not been for the rolled ankle in his last match, Alcaraz probably would have been the play here. But given the uncertainty surrounding his health, Djokovic looks like the right side at these odds.

The Pick: Djokovic To Win (+105)