Tennis·ROUNDUP

Auger-Aliassime comeback bid falls short in quarter-final loss to Zverev at Madrid Open

Canadian tennis star Felix Auger-Aliassime saw his comeback bid fall short in a 6-3, 7-5 loss to world No. 3 Alexander Zverev on Friday in the Madrid Open quarter-finals.

Alcaraz overpowers fellow Spaniard Nadal to set semifinal clash with Djokovic

Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime was defeated by defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-5 on Friday in a quarter-final Madrid Open match. (Javier Soriano/AFP)

Canadian tennis star Felix Auger-Aliassime saw his comeback bid fall short in a 6-3, 7-5 loss to world No. 3 Alexander Zverev on Friday in the Madrid Open quarter-finals.

Auger-Aliassime, seeded eighth at the Masters clay-court event, battled back from a 4-1 deficit in the second set. He finally broke Zverev in the seventh game, then holding to tie the set 4-4.

Zverev held serve to make it 5-4 and once again had Auger-Aliassime on the ropes, but the Montreal native saved two match points before holding for a 5-5 tie.

The defending champion from Germany finally put the match away when he held for a 6-5 lead, then earned his fourth break to take the second set 7-5.

WATCH l Auger-Aliassime falls to defending champion Zverev at Madrid Open:

Felix Auger-Aliassime falls to Alexander Zverev in Madrid Open quarter-finals

2 months ago
Duration 3:39
World No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime was eliminated from the Madrid Open on Friday following a 6-3, 7-5 loss to Germany's Alexander Zverev. The tournament's defending champion, Zverev needed to survive a tight second set to book his spot in Saturday's semifinals.

Auger-Aliassime, the eighth seed in Madrid, rolled into the quarter-finals with impressive wins over Cristian Garin and Jannik Sinner, but was outplayed early in the match with Zverev before coming on in the second set.

The German hit 27 winners and converted both break point chances he had in the opening set while not facing a break opportunity himself.

Auger-Aliassime fell to 2-5 against Zverev.

Zverev will face fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece in the semifinals, who defeated Andrey Rublev 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Alcaraz overpowers Nadal

This time, the Spanish player being celebrated on centre court wasn't Rafael Nadal.

The loud cheers from spectators at the Caja Magica in Madrid were, instead, directed at the teenage sensation considered the Spanish successor to the all-time great Nadal.

In a clash of generations, 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz overcame an injury to defeat his idol 6-2, 1-6, 6-3.

WATCH l Alcaraz earns incredible match point over idol Rafael Nadal:

Carlos Alcaraz earns incredible match point over idol Rafael Nadal at Madrid Open

2 months ago
Duration 1:24
World No. 9 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain put quite the exclamation mark on a thrilling 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal -- his childhood hero -- in the quarter-finals of the Madrid Open on Friday. It was the 19-year-old phenom's first victory over Nadal, a 21-time Grand Slam champion.

The teen recovered from a bad ankle twist early in the second set to earn his first victory against Nadal, marking what could be the beginning of a change of guard in Spanish tennis.

"It's obvious there's [a change in guard]," Nadal said. "He turned 19 yesterday, I'm almost 36 years old. If [the change] begins today or not, we will find out in the next months. I'm happy for him. He was better than me in several aspects of the game."

Nadal also was loudly supported throughout the match, and the five-time champion received a huge ovation as he left the court.

Alcaraz was emotional afterwards.

"It means a lot to me to beat Rafa, to beat the best player in the history on clay," he said. "This is the result of all the hard work I've done."

Nadal's 1st loss to fellow Spaniard in 6 years

It was Nadal's first loss to a Spaniard in six years, since to Fernando Verdasco at the 2016 Australian Open. He had a 138-21 record against his countrymen before facing Alcaraz for a third time.

The ninth-ranked Alcaraz is the youngest ever semifinalist in Madrid. He will next face top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who eased past Hubert Hurkacz 6-3, 6-4.

Still far from his best form after a six-week injury layoff, Nadal predicted a hard time keeping up with the energy of Alcaraz. He was right early on, as the youngster overpowered him to easily win the first set with three breaks.

But Alcaraz lost momentum after needing medical attention for his right ankle, losing 20 of the next 22 points as Nadal cruised through the second set.

"It was a little bit painful, but it was no reason to do the second set that I have done," Alcaraz said. "I think that I have let myself go. I was thinking of my ankle all the time and not on playing the match."

The match also was interrupted in the second set after a fan became ill in the stands.

Both players got off to a great start this season; both have a tour-leading three titles already.

Nadal's run was hampered by a rib stress fracture he sustained in his semifinal win against Alcaraz in Indian Wells. Nadal saved four match points to get past David Goffin in a third-round match that lasted more than three hours on Thursday.

He said it was a positive balance for him after winning two matches following his injury layoff.

"It's an easy loss to digest in that regard, because we knew what we could expect here," he said. "My only dream is [to] be in Paris [for the French Open] healthy enough and physically good enough to compete at the highest level possible."

Three-time Madrid champion Djokovic had little trouble against Hurkacz. The Serb took advantage of Hurkacz's slow start and took a 3-0 lead after the Polish player ceded his first service game by hitting long.

Another spate of unforced errors cost Hurkacz a second-set break when he smacked a forehand long. Djokovic's dominance was never ended and he won on his fourth match point.

Djokovic is trying to regain his best form after not being allowed to play in the Australian Open because he was not vaccinated.

"It's definitely a positive indication that I am on the right track in terms of getting to the desired level of tennis, being in one of the best tournaments in the world where all the best players are playing," he said. "It does give me confidence, and it encourages me to keep going. I have a lot of positives to take from the last couple of days."

Djokovic beat Gael Monfils in straight sets to start his campaign at the outdoor clay tournament, and a walkover after Andy Murray withdrew because of a stomach illness before their match on Thursday.

Djokovic praised Alcaraz after arriving in Madrid this week, and said his son had already replaced Nadal with the young Spaniard as his favorite player.

With files from The Associated Press

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