Carlos Alcaraz reviews the painting, and the keys lead him to the clash with Félix Auger-Aliassime. That is, the alarm sounds. Three duels and as many victories for the Canadian, who on Wednesday saved a limit situation against Tommy Paul –six match points, three of them in the final tiebreaker– and appears in the quarterfinals today (not before 2:00, Movistar Sports) as a major threat. For one reason or another, the Murcian –benefited by the abandonment of the English Draper, with 6-2 and 2-0– has not managed to sink his teeth into him and as if that were not enough, he will run into a grown adversary who against the American came back a set against and an adverse 0-3 in the last round.
“I kept my head up. I thought: ‘OKI’m not that far away, you can’. If I leave here I will do it thinking that I have given everything. I went point to point. It’s a cliché, I know, but it works”, reconstructed the boy from Montreal, a lightning bolt that beat the Spanish in the three episodes before this one that frames the Californian desert: US Open of 2021, group stage of the Davis Cup of the year last and, also, in the confrontation of October in Basel. In the first, an adductor injury forced Alcaraz to retire when he had given up the first set; in the second, recently crowned at Flushing Meadows and becoming number one, the Spaniard got stuck at La Fonteta in Valencia despite having started on the right foot; and in the third, Auger-Aliassime returned to being an indoor roller.
“As I have been playing matches [nueve este curso, ocho triunfos y una sola derrota], regained confidence. Yes, I would say that right now I am there and I am capable of winning the tournaments. I am one of the favorites ”, projected the man from El Palmar, convinced that he could reverse the dynamics and resolve a pending issue, since until now he has hardly resisted anything, but direct duels with his generational colleagues. Of the 32 defeats that he has suffered since his entry into the ATP circuit, officially two seasons ago, more than a third (12) occur against rivals under 24 years of age.
There is no adversary that resists him more than Auger-Aliassime, who has defeated him three times (3-0); the same figure is recorded by Alexander Zverev, but the German bowed on one occasion (3-1). It is not a minor matter for the current number two, aware that he is having a hard time imposing himself on those who are going to be his theoretical traveling companions; in some cases, like that of the Canadian, direct opponents in the fight to dominate the circuit for the next decade. He commands against the American Sebastian Korda (2-1), there are draws with the Italian Yannik Sinner (2-2) and with the Danish Holger Rune (1-1) and the only time he ran into Lorenzo Musetti – in the Hamburg final – kissed the canvas.
However, today’s pulse comes in circumstances that initially became a beneficiary. First of all because of the context, outdoors, and to continue because of the composition of the track, rather slow despite being North American asphalt. Splendid in the debut against Thanasi Kokkinakis, efficient against the impetuous Tallon Griekspoor and in the line of the first day until Draper’s musculature said enough, Alcaraz’s tennis intimidates again and continues to receive praise, although his team guesses a Very generous room for improvement and you are required accordingly.
“I think it has room to be more linear and more consistent during the points, but when I talk about consistency it does not mean that it scores five or six balls, but that there are fewer unforced errors at first, more concentration…”, he points out to this newspaper. Antonio Martínez Cascales, the coach who supervised his game during the recent tour in South America; “I think Carlitos has a wide margin, especially with the serve; there you must progress. He’s still very young and everything requires a process, but overall he’s doing a fantastic job.”
Only three victories away from regaining the world throne, Alcaraz faces a higher test against Aliassime: it is he, born in 2003 – that is, centenary–, against the scourge of the Canadian and, who was going to tell him, that of his contemporaries.
The Spaniard will intervene this Thursday in the last turn, after Sinner and the defending champion, Taylor Fritz, decide the pass to the semifinals (around 11:15 p.m.). The first tickets were won by Frances Tiafoe (double 6-4 against Cameron Norrie) and the Russian Daniil Medvedev, who took advantage of Alejandro Davidovich’s indecision to seal access to the penultimate round (6-3 and 7-5, in 1h 47m). The 23-year-old from Malaga increased his level but ended up paying for his emotional cyclothymia, lacking in fang when the Muscovite had suffered an injury to the thumb of his right hand and was entangled in double faults (7); with 4-4 he failed to finish off three break options and finally destabilized. However, the Andalusian will rise on Monday to 25th place in the ATP, his best classification.
Meanwhile, Medvedev continues to record victories. They are already 18 consecutive and he is postulated as a firm candidate for the prize that will be granted by the outcome on Sunday. After winning in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai, he is aiming for his fourth trophy of the year and will land Tiafoe underlining his extraordinary performance on fast in the Masters 1000; With nine appearances in the penultimate round since 2019, he leads Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas by three and Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal by four.
A PENDING SUBJECT
Defeats of Alcaraz in front of minors of 24 years:
– Mikael Ymer (24): Australia (2021) and Winston-Salem (2021).
– Emil Ruusuvuori (23): Miami (2021).
– Hugo Gaston (22): Paris-Bercy 2021.
– Sebastian Korda (22): Monte Carlo (2022).
– Lorenzo Musetti (21): Hamburg (2022).
– Rune Holger (19): Paris-Bercy (2022).
– Jannik sinner (21): Wimbledon (2022) and Umag (2022).
– Felix Auger-Aliassime (22): US Open (2021), Davis Cup (2022) and Basel (2022).
Wins vs. Under-24s: Sinner (2), Korda (2), Jack Draper (2), Sebastian Baez (2), Casper Ruud (1), Rune (1), Giulio Zeppieri (1), Brandon Nakashima ( 1), Miomir Kecmanovic (1), Nicola Kuhn (1), Juan Manuel Cerúndolo (1), Jenson Brooksby (1), Mateus de Carvalho (1).
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