The story ends with Philippe Chatrier standing up, giving both of them a heartfelt applause and with a scatological confession: “I shit my pants.” She speaks and sighs of relief Alexander Zverev, who talks with adrenaline still in his body after a fabulous one-on-one with Carlos Alcaraz. The Spaniard says goodbye to Paris in the quarterfinals (6-4, 6-4, 4-6 and 7-6(7), but he does it by putting the great Frenchman in his pocket. There will be Carlitos for a while, the Parisians think. It’s been a dizzying 3 hours and 18 minutes and the prize goes to whoever buys the most tickets. Zverev savors his first victory against a top-10 in a big one (now 1-11) and stands as the negation of the boy, whom no one has beaten three times, who surfed a delicious wave (titles in Barcelona and Madrid) and linked 13 successive wins, and who three weeks ago he had taken out the colors in Madrid. Alcaraz leaves, but with his head held high.
The crossing at the beginning of the month in the Caja Mágica had nothing to do with this time. Zverev, on alert and with the lesson well learned, proposed a much rockier version in the rally and did not allow himself to be distracted. He was hesitant on the first few balls, but once his lever warmed up and he adjusted the peephole, almost everything started going through his serve. If he has the day with the first, there is no way to sink his teeth. He has a limited record in Hamburg, which has passed through the hands of several technicians – including Ferrero, in a fleeting relationship of eight months – to evolve his game without much success. The bad manners continue, the recurrent laziness, the apathy on and off the track. But he retains two differential blows.
One is the serve, of course. Incontestable in the first two rounds —six points he gave up in the first and ten in the second—, there is no one who catches that wake if he finds cadence and feels the ball. Alcaraz competes on a high displacement motorcycle, and not even so. The other is the reverse. He is not as architectural as Novak Djokovic’s and is far from Roger Federer’s aesthetic, but when he is in tune it allows him to rule the duel to the rhythm of the metronome and finish the point with the crossover version. His color palette isn’t extensive, but that deck and back give him life. The harvest is not scarce: 19 trophies, 11 more finals; an Olympic gold, two Masters Cups, five Masters 1000. And all in the middle of a lot of trouble, without really exploding.
two antagonistic worlds
Yes, Alcaraz has done it, which in terms of style and projection offers the opposite: an exemplary work ethic, attitude and discretion, methodical on a day-to-day basis; creativity and imagination on all four sides, selection gourmet in the left ones Two worlds. Two antagonistic paths to the top. He overwhelmed the German in the Caja Mágica, but this time he found himself facing another player. No trace of that Zverev off. “Now it will be different”, he warned himself. And so it was. He had already suffered against Albert Ramos in the second round, but that afternoon he dressed as Houdini and managed to escape, saving a match point. This time, Zverev cornered him even more. He woke up late, too many mistakes (56).
The German stem opted for the first two partials with skill and decision, accurate to find the liver of the Spanish when it suited him. Two crochet, two bites to the party. Open the abyss, more cold blood and more good work. But not everything was said. He threw himself into it with everything and found the center’s acrimony: “Shit-them, Shit-them, Shit-them!”, he dedicated the stands with the aim of breathing air into the Murcian, to revive him. The soundtrack of the afternoon. And Alcaraz tried to rebel, based on heart and courage, taking off from the bottom line and going to tackle: he attracted the rival to the net and tried to sew him left. A fantasy arsenal. Cat and mouse, he almost always got away with it.
War cry: ‘Magnify him!’
Thus he rejoined, and thus he penalized Zverev, always uncomfortable in the vertical race. With 4-4 in the third setAlcaraz saved a limit situation (ball break) and then threw the claw. He was awarded the set and cut differences, and the German then entered the mosqueo. The lines did not call a couple of balls that had gone out, corrected a posteriori by the chair umpire, and the French grandstand shamelessly turned to the Spanish. War cry in the Chatrier: “Alcaraz, Magnify him!”.
A hot man with a tendency to disconnect, Zverev kept his cool despite the fact that the stands turned their backs on him and he also found himself with a gift. A double fault left him a foot from victory, but when he had it the best, missing the knockout and serving to win, he got caught. Suspense until the end. The entanglement and the bravery of Alcaraz led the set to a 24-carat playoff, ruled from power to power. At each órdago of one, came a superior of another. The Spanish, nerves of steel, rushed a couple of lines and threw a huge intern; then he tried to intimidate the German by going on an adventure, but in the final frame he tried a net serve to which Zverev responded with an equally extraordinary backhand. He vanished that ball for a fifth.
That’s as far as this route of the young man from El Palmar. Only Sebastian Korda, in Monte Carlo, had been able to beat him on this tour. Clapping for both of us, an outline of what is to come —Caglos promises strong emotions in Paris—, the central standing and the German arms raised. Quite simply, she deserved it.
“I KEEP FEELING I CAN WIN A BIG”
BC | Paris
Carlos Alcaraz left the Roland Garros complex with a bittersweet feeling. Always demanding with himself, the 19-year-old from Murcia valued the journey made during these days in the Bois de Boulogne, but at the same time regretted having given up the ground in the first two sets.
“I have lacked the level to beat Zverev, who has already played a Grand Slam final, a semifinal here and who is already seasoned in this type of situation. I should have started better. In the third and fourth I started to play better, but it wasn’t enough. I started late, and although in a major you have opportunities to turn it around, even if you are two sets down, you are trailing. He should have started with more rhythm and given him the feeling that he was there before, ”said the Murcian.
Alcaraz told the journalists that he was physically well and tried to extract the positive approach to this step through the Bois de Boulogne. “I have learned to play a few quarters of a Grand Slam. the previous time [en el US Open del año pasado] I had to leave injured, and today has been a totally different feeling”, he appreciated; “Today I was able to play. At this point you play against the best and I think it’s positive to live these situations and these kinds of moments. You have to know how to find your level in this type of situation”.
The Spaniard also referred to the support of the French crowd, which throughout these two weeks has supported him and given him endless praise. “I felt very loved by all the people. I can not ask for anything more. From the beginning I have felt all the love and I hope I can keep coming here and have the people on my side, ”he continued. “I have never thought that he was the favourite, and despite today’s defeat I still feel that I can win a Grand Slam. I feel I have the level. He has escaped me due to details and I must learn, but the feeling of being one of the favorites has not weighed me down, ”he added.
Now, Alcaraz will rest a few days in his town and later, with no time to lose, he will head to England to face the tour on grass. He played several tournaments as a junior and last year he left a good taste in the mouth at Wimbledon, where he lost in the second round against the Russian Daniil Medvedev. Now, Queen’s will be his starting point.
Alexander Zverev, for his part, influenced the mentality. “It was extremely important, because I knew it was going to be a very long and very physical match”, said the 25-year-old number three in the world, who praised Alcaraz’s repertoire: “It’s very difficult to know what he’s going to do. He is one of the best in the world right now. I think he has extreme power, very good hands. The drop shots he does are unbelievable.”