Carlos Alcaraz bursts into the conference room like someone who accesses the confessional, happy to have raffled off a very tough afternoon against the Finn Emil Ruusuvuori (2-6, 6-4 and 6-1, after 2h 16m) and ready at the same time to assume the penance for having thrown the racket into the sand in an instant of confusion. “I missed a return to the second serve that I didn’t touch, a ball that I didn’t have to miss either…”, introduces the man from El Palmar. “It has been a mental stop. I don’t support that kind of thing, but today it came out and I regret it; I have discussed it with Juan Carlos [Ferrero, su entrenador]… The good thing is that I have realized and I have rectified, and that has made me improve”, he adds with the face of a good boy, coming to remember that he is only 19 years old and, therefore, still has many things to learn.
One of them, essential if you want to become the great champion you want and that specialists predict, consists of unlocking matches as complicated as this last one; so rough, so stumbling and so uphill, because for a long time, speaking clearly, Alcaraz had at least one foot out of the Madrid tournament. He is internalizing the concept, and surely he will not forget this April 28, the date of his father’s birthday and also that of a most tricky duel, in tow until Ruusuvuori (41st in the world, 24 years old) forgave five balls for achieve the breakin the second set, and thus signed the farewell certificate.
“Many times we don’t manage to enjoy ourselves or play at our best level, and we have to accept that with humility. Sometimes you have to make another game, even if it’s not my style. Except for the third set, in which I played a little more the way I like, you had to put on overalls; Even if I didn’t enjoy it as much as in other matches, I had to move it forward”, he explained to the journalists, on one of those days when they sift through and differentiate the good from the best, and the latter from the excellent. To get where he dreams of, the boy already knows that beauty is not enough, and that when things come as bad as in this case, victory has double value.
It is not the first time that Alcaraz escapes from an emergency situation. He already came back against Fabio Fognini and Nicolás Jarry in Rio de Janeiro, and in Barcelona he had to overcome two thorny battles with Roberto Bautista and Alejandro Davidovich. He influences his team in the idea that he must learn to row against the current, and the player’s predisposition contributes. If he has to fight in the mud, he does it. He has no other. All the dominant tennis players he intends to emulate did, from the exemplary Nadal to Federer himself, who on occasions also had to ditch his tailcoat and put on a cleaning suit.
figure out what’s going on
“My grandfather’s motto [”cabeza, corazón y cojones”] it has been more present than ever; I have had to give him the three C’s at all times ”, he described before leaving the Caja Mágica and thinking about the Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, the stumbling block this Sunday (not before 8:00 p.m., Movistar and Tdp); “at that moment [ante las cinco opciones de rotura del nórdico], many thoughts go through your head, but I have been there all the time; I have been thinking all the time that I could, that I was going to have a small opportunity to the rest, and from break [logrado a continuación por él] we have chained a good dynamic”.
Although he absorbs quickly, Alcaraz does not stop being a boy of his age and his time. He gives in to Ferrero’s requests, but logically it is difficult for him to understand some codes of professionalism that for a 19-year-old may seem trivial and are actually essential. Ruusuvuori’s determination and circumstances came together: a premiere and also in Madrid, with family and friends in the stands. The Caja Mágica is not just any framework, where tennis players must adapt to a higher ball speed than in the rest of the tournaments played on clay.
On a very leaden afternoon, Alcaraz knew how to withstand the storm and turn history around. Uncomfortable, he requested to change the strings of his racket on the fly to gain tension – he added another kilo – and at the decisive moment, he achieved the turn he needed. “You have to know how to differentiate what is happening. I’m an aggressive player, but Emil was playing at a pace that wouldn’t allow me to do my own. He didn’t know how to hurt her… You had to try to make the stitches last a little longer. I adapt a lot to the circumstances, and if I have to put on the overalls, I do it perfectly, because I feel comfortable with it”, concluded the number two in the world.
Demanded physically and especially mentally, the Murcian managed to progress and followed in his wake Davidovich (6-3 and 6-4 to Albert Ramos), Bautista (4-6, 7-6(5) and 6-3 to Halys) and Jaume Munar (due to Griekspoor’s withdrawal). Nuria Párrizas (6-3, 4-6 and 6-2 for Kudermetova) and Roberto Carballés (6-7(6), 7-5 and 6-0) gave up, and Casper Ruud, fourth in the ATP, said goodbye. This Saturday Bernabé Zapata (Daniel Evans), Paula Badosa (against Coco Gauff; not before 4:00 p.m., Dazn) and Rebeka Masarova (Maria Sakkari) will intervene in the last shift.
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