Not a week had passed since the last time Carlos Alcaraz had faced Tommy Paul in the quarterfinals in Canada where the American defeated the Spaniard. However, this time it was different because of the rain, which was present on three occasions, extending the match to five hours, and because of the game by the Murcian who, in the end, was liked and began to recover the sensations he showed at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. The man from El Palmar was not willing to fall again against the same rival on the same surface and eight days apart. On this occasion, luck fell on the Spaniard’s side in another great game, tough and even. He will have the opportunity to maintain the level shown, during the rainy evening in Cincinnati, in the quarterfinals against the Australian Max Purcell (70th in the ranking) tonight, not before 9:00 p.m. (Movistar +).
The world number one is aware that the US Open is approaching, that he defends 2,000 points and that he is already fighting with Djokovic for number one. And that was noticeable from the beginning because a different Carlitos was seen, different, as he had not been seen since the beginning of the American tour. Much more involved on the track and dominating with his right hand, his best shot and which had been his weak point so far these weeks. He also helped the track, much faster than the Canadian. Even so, the American, who is one of the fittest and most dangerous players today, continued to do his thing, taking out his serve, moving quickly around the court and not letting himself be influenced by the improved version of the Spaniard.
That is why he always makes Alcaraz suffer, he bothers him like very few because he knows how to defend himself against his attacks and he also knows how to get him off the track. And so came Paul’s break, which was placed 5-2 in 30 minutes. The Murcian also struggled against the wind that produced strange bounces and neutralized the speed of his balls. When the ghosts of Toronto appeared, Carlitos clung to the track and brought out the character and mental strength of a number one to equalize 5-5. From there, he fine-tuned and returned to the dominant version of Spanish. Above all, in the tie break where he took the first set.
In the second set, the mechanics of the first was repeated and Alcaraz lost his serve to recover it the next game. From here, the forces were balanced, the Murcian continued with confidence but Paul held on, who raised the intensity again. This produced constant breaks and counterbreaks between one and the other until reaching 4-4. “Positive, think that he is going to leave,” Ferrero assured him. And everything the Spaniard hears is executed, who despite losing service prevented them from going to the third set, defended a set ball against, and returned the break based on drop shots and winning shots.
Taking out that game was a morale shot for the Spaniard and turned off Paul. Everything seemed over and Alcaraz had three match balls, but he missed it and after a fifteen-minute game the second set also went to a tie break. While he lamented the triple loss, the American revived, took the tiebreaker 7-0 and the match went to the final third set.
Alcaraz made a clean slate, who could not afford to leave the game where the feelings were being positive. “It’s time to get tough,” Ferrero warned him again. And once again the man from El Palmar got down to work, who did not stop and determinedly broke Paul’s serve. At the best moment of number one when he was going to more and was close to victory, the rain appeared. They had been in the game for three hours and the downpour forced them to go to the locker room at the most important moment.
Groundhog Day in Cincinnati
An hour after the last point and with 4-3 in favor of the Murcian, the duel was going to resume, but another cloud unloaded and the match did not even resume. Alcaraz laughed for not crying because he saw how he could not close the game due to the rain and for not having taken advantage of the three match balls. It seemed that the third time was the charm and both players came out again. The game resumed, put Alcaraz 5-3, to one of the quarterfinals, but again the never-ending story. More rain and the two young men laughed as they took refuge in the gym again in the face of such a surreal situation. The scene was so unreal that even Carlitos took the opportunity to close his eyes and take a mini nap for a few seconds.
The sky cleared, the lights came on and the stands were filled for the fourth time. Now yes, he was playing again and Alcaraz, tired of waiting and waiting, finished the game before Paul went back into combustion. Three hours and fifteen minutes after the first match point, and after three stoppages due to rain, the number one took revenge on the American (7-6(4), 6-7(0), 6-3) and agreed to the quarterfinals after five and a half hours of meeting.
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