Enjoy the Chatrier of a kind of recreation, the one to you of two players who compete and, above all, have fun. A delight what is observed, technical details everywhere, circus points and two young people riding throughout the plant as if there was no tomorrow, bare-chested. Lorenzo Musetti has plenty of forms, a sculptural player polished in Carrara and who could perfectly well be exhibited at the Uffizi. What to say about Carlos Alcaraz, portentous from all angles: physical, technical and, here is the difference between one and the other, also from the competitive plane. The fang that one lacks is left over another, so that logic prevails and the Spaniard (6-3, 6-2 and 6-2 after 2h 08m) disembarks in the quarters of Paris. Without a single scratch, he already steps on the free zone of the tournament.
"I think I've played at a great level. Great shots, knowing how to play with the wind, very aggressive... I played a very complete match from the first ball to the last, "he says after the duel, quoted on Tuesday with the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (7-5, 6-3 and 6-0 to Sebastian Offner). "I try not to think about the pressure, about being favourite, about number one... [now forcing Djokovic to win the trophy to snatch it]. I try to get those thoughts out of my head, I just try to play tennis and enjoy, to smile, that's the key for me. Smile, have fun, try to make impossible shots, make people enjoy ... It's what I think about during games," he adds. It is Alcaraz in all its expression. Bite, aggressive, fast, imaginative, powerful; exuberant, timely, growing. A great whole.
Attention, Djokovic wakes up
He shows again that he has one more march than the rest, knowing that Novak Djokovic is coming – triumph against Varillas and ascending line, without giving up any set yet – and that now it is not convenient to loosen up in any way, but quite the opposite. This is a big one, and propaganda counts. The Serbian, 36 years old and old fox, issues a message in the previous shift – "today gives me confidence," warns Nole in the conference room – and the young man, 20, maintains the line of these days, which is equivalent to authority and decision, cruising speed and ability to remake and find solutions every time someone coughs or poses a hurry. Musetti does it, but he capitulates because every attempt of his gets a devastating response.
A beast is on the loose in Paris. His name is Alcaraz and he seems to have things clear. Everything other than winning the title next Sunday will know little because the conquest of Roland Garros was and is a strategic objective, priority in a season in which he wants to mark a definitive turning point. He turns the page on his sport and in the face of the doubts of the rest and the lack of definition of the intermediate generation, he rises and distinguishes himself, coming to tell others that if they do not improve much they will have it raw. Musetti quickly proves it, exquisite and plastic, a diamond that as a junior aimed very high – number one and champion in Australia – and that probably soon may find itself at a crossroads.
Tricks, fantasy, legs...
Style must be accompanied by efficiency, and the Italian (21 years old) still lacks fang, two or three firings to really get closer to the front line. He defeated Alcaraz last year in the final of Hamburg, in a somewhat tricky outcome because that day the El Palmar let escape several trains that in normal conditions does not usual. Here in Paris, the story is very different. No slippage is allowed. Both show hand, fantasy and vigor, but the superiority of the number one is simply exultant. When he sticks out his arm for a walk – 42 winners versus 17 – the palms of the attendees redden from so much applause; When the rival makes a demarraje, the reaction is immediate and overwhelming; And when it has the slightest opportunity, it closes to avoid undesirable delays.
Alcaraz celebrates a point. JULIEN DE ROSA (AFP)
In the three previous engagements, Musetti – Djokovic's executor this year in Monte Carlo – had not surrendered a single partial and had only lost his serve three times; this time, he falls to lead on the canvas and Alcaraz birla him seven times the service. The Chatrier has a great time with tricks, corrections and leg display. No matter what wind sneaks in. It's not Monaco, but a Formula 1 sparkles through the power station. After Cobolli, Daniel and Shapovalov, the Italian suffers – another one-handed backhand – and what happens underlines the current difference between the king of the circuit and the rest. They insist again and again to the Murcian that he does not lose his smile and that he enjoys, because that freshness guarantees emotions. And he nods happily, erre que erre for the show: he invents and invents Alcaraz, closer and closer to the Parisian peak. It's three steps, a whole world. But let's see who is the handsome one who stops him.
"I TRY TO LOOK LIKE THE VERY GOOD ONES"
A. C. | Paris
Alcaraz described as his "best match, by far", the performance against Musetti. Surely when the script demanded it, the Murcian offered a level jump before the crossing with Tsitsipas, whom he has defeated in the four previous confrontations and who has managed to overflow emotionally.
"I just try to play at a high level in every game. Obviously you improve as the rounds go by because you meet better people, who demand more from you. But I do not have in mind to reserve myself, but I try to give one hundred percent in each game, "he said.
The Spaniard said he is "superfine to play five sets" and that the presence of his family and friends serves to air the mind and "disconnect". A couple of days ago he visited the Eiffel Tower with them and, jokingly, said he considered himself "fast" when asked if he usually rehearses specifically with speed.
"I work a lot on the sprints of 30 or 40 meters," he said, without specifying whether this Monday, as he has been doing in the last days of transition between one game and another, he will rest or not. "I have not trained and it has been good for me. It's something I have to discuss with my team," he said.
On his game, he stressed that it imposes "a fairly high pace" and that those who want to win it must respond to "a very high physical and mental demand, which is very difficult to maintain for a long time."
He then mentioned Federer, Nadal and Djokovic: "I always say, and I do not put myself in the bag, that if they have dominated for so long it is because they have the ability to maintain a very high physical, mental and tennis level for a long time. In that sense, I try to look like them."
During the conference, a local journalist asked him if he has replaced Nadal in the hearts of the French, to which he replied: "Well... I want to think so. As I said, I don't know if the spectators or the fans of Rafa go with me, but I can feel the affection of the people every time I train or I'm on the track. I don't know if they are Nadal fans who have become my fans or not; I can only say that I feel the affection."
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