Carlos Alcaraz dodges an early challenge en route to the US Open semi-finals
News agency5 minutes to read
NEW YORK – Carlos Alcaraz found himself in a hint of trouble 35 minutes into the US Open quarter-final against Alexander Zverev on Wednesday night.
At 3-all in the first set under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Zverev got his first break points of the match. editorial. An opportunity to gain an early advantage against the defending champion. And then – gone. Alcaraz rejected those opportunities to hold on, then got a break in the next match by depositing an overhead ball that bounced into the stands. Another contract arrived and, in this way, the group belonged to Alcaraz, as it did in the end, in the semi-finals.
Top seed Alcaraz defeated Zverev 6-3 6-2 6-4 and moved one step closer to becoming the first man to win back-to-back titles at Flushing Meadows since Roger Federer’s five consecutive titles from 2004-2008.
“(If) I could break serve, things could have gone my way. But it didn’t,” Zverev said about this important part of the seventh game. “Even though I lost the first set, I thought it was going to be a competitive match. I thought my form was there. I thought his form was there. I thought it was going to be an interesting match.”
But 12th seed Zverev, a 26-year-old German and 2020 US Open runner-up, said he felt something unpleasant in his left groin area early in the second set. Because of this, he explained, sprinting quickly and pushing properly to serve became problematic.
“I didn’t give up, but there wasn’t much you could do against Carlos at the time,” said Zverev, who left the court to take a medical break before the third set.
There haven’t been many instances in which anyone has managed to slow down Alcaraz, the 20-year-old Spaniard, in any real way over the past year on and off Grand Slams.
He’s improved to 24-1 in his past four grand slams: After the tournament in New York 12 months ago, he missed the Australian Open with a leg injury, and reached the semifinals at the French Open before suffering a cramp in the loss. To Novak Djokovic he added the Wimbledon Cup by defeating Djokovic in the final before the tour over those two weeks.
It is possible that there will be a rematch between Alcaraz and Djokovic in the final on Sunday.
“Well, it is clear that it is closer than it was at the start of the tournament,” Alcaraz said, laughing when asked about this possibility.
“It would be great to play a final against Novak here in New York, but…we’re both up against a really tough semi-final, so let’s see.”
Yes, first things first. Alcaraz will face 2021 US Open champion Daniil Medvedev in the quarter-finals on Friday, while 23-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic faces unseeded Ben Shelton, a 20-year-old American who has never before reached this far in a Grand Slam. .
On a sweltering evening, Alcaraz showed many sides of his versatile game against Zverev.
Powerful forehands that elicit cheers from the audience. Delicate drop shots. The hammer returns. Quick coverage of all courts. A willingness to try—and an ability to succeed—in shots that others wouldn’t think of.
“I try to make people enjoy watching tennis, watching the matches,” Alcaraz said during his interview on the court.
Alcaraz, who won 58-6, said: “I was trying to do different shots that the public may not be used to seeing in matches .. This is what I try – to put on a show.” Six titles in 2023, both highs.
There is also a sense of the moment, knowing when there are points or games he definitely needs. On Wednesday, he saved all five break points he faced and converted every one of the four he earned on Zverev’s serve.
Alcaraz said he tries to think of those turns as potentially changing results as “a point of nature; try to do the things I’ve been doing well. I try to play my game, I try to be aggressive”.
He ended up collecting 11 of his 13 points in the stretch that ended the first set, in part by exploiting Zverev’s second serve.
It was a perfect return of a 129mph first serve that sealed Alcaraz’s winning backhand across the court on the break that tipped the second set to 2-1. While the coach tended to Zverev after that set, Alcaraz wasted time by spinning his racket like it was a stick.