Carlos Alcaraz at 19-years of age, is on the verge of rewriting the history books as he reaches the quarter finals of the Cincinnati Open to become the youngest player since Andy Murray 16 years ago, the reach the last eight of this Masters level event.
I knew that I was going to have my chances to break his big serve. So I'm really happy with the performance and the focus in the match. Carlos Alcaraz
Currently ranked at No.4 in world terms, should he go on to win the event, he will leapfrog past Rafa Nadal (3) and Alexander Zverev (2) to slip in behind Daniil Medvedev (1).
To reach the last eight, the teenager retained his focus to eventually eliminate the 14th seeded Marin Cilic, 7-6(4) 6-1 recovering from the disappointment of not converting two set points when he was serving out for the first set.
“I know that Marin is a really aggressive player. I had to be really focussed on the match,” Alcaraz said following his victory. “I knew that it was going to be a tough match, that I had to be in the match all the time. I knew that I was going to have my chances to break his big serve. So I’m really happy with the performance and the focus in the match.”
Throughout the match, the youngster controlled events and held serve comfortably until the 10th game when his concentration wavered temporarily with three double faults, but Cilic then had to immediately hand back his break advantage wilting under some aggressive play from the Spaniard as the match progressed into an inevitable tie break.
And having remedied the situation in the tie break, he dominated the play in the second set to sweep into the quarter finals.
“Obviously these kind of things can happen in really close moments,” Alcaraz said of his embarrassing service game. “It’s tough to come back after three double faults in a row to break my serve in that moment, but I am serving really well so I will just train a little bit more tomorrow before the quarter-finals. But I have the confidence pretty high.”
Overall Alcaraz’s serving performance was a strong one with eight aces against an opponent famed for his strong and powerful serving who could only manage four on this occasion which also saw the Croatian make 27 unforced errors as he fought to hold back the aggression from the other side of the net.
The Spaniard faces ninth seed Cameron Norrie next, the Briton having comfortably dispatched the American wild card Ben Shelton 6-0 6-2.
Meanwhile the player from Moscow Alcaraz would eventually like to replace at the top of the rankings, Medvedev, who was barred from competing at Wimbledon, is looking to build some much-needed momentum ahead of his defence of his U.S Open title, the only major he has won to date.
Having lost his opening match at last week’s Canadian Open in Montreal, the Muscovite has settled back into winning form but has needed to grind out his victories in Cincinnati,
He beat the Canadian Denis Shapovaloy 7-5 7-5 to make the quarter, a player who has been struggling for the best part of the year with nine first round losses from 10 tournaments until Cincinnati where he has rediscovered some of his form.
“In general, I managed to be pretty constant,” Medvedev said of his win.
“I got a lot of break opportunities. Broke first in the first set. Served pretty well even in the game where I lost my serve. In general, happy with my level and looking forward to the next matches.”
Next up for Medvedev is the 11th seeded American Taylor Fritz, who fought back from a set down to beat his compatriot Andrey Rublev 6-7(4) 6-2 7-5.
“Obviously, I want to go even further, semis, finals, win the title but to put another Masters quarter-final on the record for the year helps a lot,” said the Indian Wells Masters champion, who could well break into the top ten for the first time.
In other matches, Borna Coric, who is on the comeback trail after shoulder surgery, backed up his stunning victory over Nadal by beating another Spaniard, Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2 6-3 and is certainly not to be underestimated.
A quarter finalist at Flushing Meadows in 2020, Coric will next face Canadian seventh seed Auger-Aliassime, who saved two match points in the second set in a stunning 2-6 7-6(1) 6-1 comeback victory over Italian Jannick Sinner, seeded 10.
Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas took down Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-3 in a little over 90 minutes after the South American served up nine double faults and will next face American John Isner, a 7-6(3) 1-6 7-6(4) winner over compatriot Sebastian Korda.