Carlos Alcaraz in the third round after beating Albert Ramos-Viñolas in an epic | French Open 2022

Carlos Alcaraz in the third round after beating Albert Ramos-Viñolas in an epic | French Open 2022

For more than two weeks, since he had the audacity to beat Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal back to back en route to winning another Masters 1000 title in Madrid, the noise around 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz has been deafening.

He was called the best player in the world by Djokovic, the No.1 player himself. He was, according to some bookmakers, the tournament favorite to win Roland Garros even with Djokovic and Nadal in attendance. He arrived in Paris with higher expectations than they have been for any teenager since Nadal 17 years ago.

Yet, in a frenzied battle on Simmone-Mathieu court late Wednesday night, Alcaraz nearly fell at the second hurdle. Alcaraz lost a match point in the fourth set on Albert Ramos-Viñolas’ serve, then trailed 0-3 in a fifth set that threatened to fall from his grip and he just couldn’t find his shape on so many of the 31 breakpoints it generated. Regardless, Alcaraz somehow recovered to defeat Ramos-Viñolas 6-1, 6-7(7), 5-7, 7-6(2), 6-4 and reach the third round.

The challenge in front of Alcaraz on the third biggest pitch was one of the ultimate irritants of the game. Although he doesn’t have a big weapon, Ramos-Viñolas lives for the clay courts where he can push, shove and disrupt opponents into madness. He combines his relentless ability to open up the court through angles with strong movement and unwavering consistency, which propelled him into the top 20 and a quarter-final at Roland Garros.

After being taken down 6-1 in the first set by a burning Alcaraz, the elder Spaniard slowly dug into Alcaraz’s psyche and infuriated him. As Alcaraz’s errors flowed, he took the second and third sets, then broke to serve for the match at 5-4. In the close game that followed, Ramos-Viñolas had the match point on his racquet as he attacked an insidehand forehand, but it hit the top of the net and fell on his side. By erasing his own mistakes, keeping the ball in play and hitting an outrageous bouncing smash winner, Alcaraz survived before eliminating the tie-break.

Throughout the fifth set, as his groundstrokes and dropshots continued to sputter, Alcaraz tried everything, beating forehands and recovering for his life. At one point he even chipped and charged, burying a backhand volley at the end. The match was ultimately decided by two supreme plays of skill and athleticism.

He broke serve for 4-3 with a moment of absurdity, a solo running backhand kick at the edge of his reach. When Ramos-Viñolas immediately fired back, Alcaraz responded by collecting three overheads in a row before forcing a volley error. Both times he had the audience in shock at what they had just seen. Alcaraz eventually recovered, moving to an outrageous 30-3 record in 2022.

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It could be a frictional moment that releases Alcaraz’s inhibitions and allows him to play at the top of his game in the games to come, or it could be an indication that despite the hype, he may not be. fully prepared for grand slam success. . What is clear is that Alcaraz is one of the most exciting venues in the sport right now and their upcoming matches will be key.

Earlier in the day, Cameron Norrie calmly reached the third round with a 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 win over Jason Kubler. Norrie, the 10th seed, will take on 21st seed Karen Khachanov as he seeks to reach his first Grand Slam fourth round. In three of his previous four Grand Slam third round finishes, Norrie has faced Rafael Nadal twice and Roger Federer. “I’m going to take this every day of the week, being in this position and being the highest seed,” he said.

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