© Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tou

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz embrace following their semi-final in Madrid on Saturday.

Djokovic Praises Alcaraz Following Madrid Defeat

World No. 1 lost to Alcaraz in a third-set tie-break

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic heaped praise on #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz following their semi-final clash on Saturday at the Mutua Madrid Open.

The Serbian was aiming to reach a record-extending 55th ATP Masters 1000 final, but was unable to overcome the 19-year-old, who will try and win his second Masters 1000 crown on Sunday against Alexander Zverev or Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“Congrats to him. He held his nerve very well,” Djokovic said in his post-match press conference. “For somebody of his age to play so maturely and courageously is impressive. He deserved to win.

“His kick in altitude here is huge, and it was just difficult to deal with his ball, and I wasn't feeling my return from that side. He was serving a lot of kick just to put himself in a good position.”

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Despite his defeat, Djokovic enjoyed a strong week in the Spanish capital, earning straight-set wins against Gael Monfils and Hubert Hurkacz as he continued to build momentum following his run to the final in Belgrade last month.

The 34-year-old, who is a three-time champion in Madrid, felt that his performance against Alcaraz was the best he has produced this season.

“I definitely played very good tennis, I mean, the best that I have played this year,” Djokovic said. “Probably when the disappointment of losing this match passes, I will have a lot of positives to take away from this week.”

Djokovic will now turn his attention to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where he will compete as the top seed in Rome at the final clay-court Masters 1000 of the season.

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