The frame begins to be familiar. Carlos Alcaraz approaches the net and gives way to his rival, numb, reflective, surrendered to the evidence: today, beating the Murcian is something like nailing a triple somersault with a corkscrew. Hard, really hard. The Russian Karen Khachanov tried by all means, but he crashed into the wall that the current number two has built, excellent in rectifying the second set. When everything indicated that the duel would be delayed, he took out the script and his style, inventing watermarks and tearing off the oooohhhh from the stands, got up, redirected (6-4 and 7-5, in 1h 50m) and certified his access to the semifinals of this Madrid Masters. Knowing how to escape, knowing how to win. She will meet on Friday the German, the Croatian Borna Coric (20th in the world, double 6-3 against Daniel Altmaier).
“Karen had been playing at a high level and she has pushed me to the limit, she has opted for small details”, she assessed as soon as the match closed, without getting off that wave that she is surfing this season, until now practically impeccable: six tournaments played, and in all of them a minimal journey to the semifinals: Buenos Aires (champion), Rio de Janeiro (finalist), Indian Wells (champion), Miami (semifinalist), Barcelona (champion) and Madrid (semifinalist). Repeat in the San Fermín neighborhood. “It’s a very good figure, I’m maintaining a high level in every tournament I go to and it’s something we work on; It is an objective that we have, to maintain the level in all the tournaments. At the moment I am getting it, and I am very happy about it ”, he resolved after saving a difficult situation, because the crossing required it.
Khachanov, a big man of 1.98 who stands out in mobility compared to other players of his size, deceives. Broad-shouldered, with strong arms and a light appearance, he knows how to move and rally, and he demonstrated it on this hot Wednesday with fans at the Caja Mágica headquarters. He debated from beginning to end, but in front of him he ran into a player who oozes confidence on all four sides. Alcaraz has a thousand and one solutions, brilliant with the wind in his favor and capable of finding an escape every time the outlook is twisted. It’s called maturity in the game. He did it in the premiere against Ruusuvuori and repeated against the Russian, who in the second set surrounded him and ended up equally scalded. He finally followed the same route as the Finn. Goodbye Madrid.
Alcaraz has a unique gift, that extra that great tennis players treasure that escapes statistics and the measurements of sophisticated sensor systems. He knows how to compete, he deciphers the times and no matter how bad they come, he does not give up. The description could correspond to that of a veteran figure, but he is only 19 years old (20 this Friday) and works with the register of the chosen ones. Victory as a routine —27 already this season, only two defeats— and a golden halo that you either have or don’t have. He doesn’t train, he doesn’t study, he doesn’t buy. The Murcian was born for this tennis thing and, above all, to leave his mark. Spectacular in form, he dazzles in the background. As with the outstanding, he is mentally a couple of steps above the rest. How long will it last? That is the question, the million dollar question. Khachanov rebelled with faith, but ended up in a daze. The tide carried him away.
78% of victories in the elite
In his short run by the elite, the man from El Palmar has achieved 117 victories in 150 games; that is to say, it is imposed in 78% of the occasions. “It’s incredible that, with such a short time on tour, because I would say it’s my second year, I’ve been here for two and a half years, I’ve played so many games and I’ve won that many. It is a pride for me. In such a short time I have established myself on the circuit, I have played great games, at incredible moments. All this has made me learn and grow very quickly, ”he appreciated.
Warred with all the Russian, yes. He left empty, like almost everyone. And that in the second set he managed to entangle and put his finger in the eye of the Spaniard, who for half an hour lost a point of edge and lost ground; He came to go 5-2 below, but Khachanov (26 years old, 12th in the ATP) did not shoot and got into a big mess. If you give him life, Alcaraz eats you. He begins to spread the feeling that the others jump onto the track with a game against them, as if every time they take a false step they know they are lost. What has been said, he is 19 years old and, theoretically, he has yet to do it. But Alcaraz speeds up the process and far from looking back, he steps on the accelerator. He aborted the possibility of an adverse 5-1 with an exquisite drop shot and outlined an architectural setback, and signed a sequence of 5-0 that sealed the game and led him to the penultimate episode of the tournament. Once again, arms raised. Again, for demolition.
“No, I’m not afraid of everything I’m getting, I’m a very ambitious boy who doesn’t want to lose even marbles,” he finished in front of the journalists; “I think I’m not going to get tired [de ganar]I’m not afraid of it. I live from day to day and I love to play tennis. I’m a winning boy, so I don’t think it’s going to happen that one day I’ll get tired”.
SWIATEK, RELEASED: GIVES UP THREE GAMES
AC | Madrid
The number one in the world, Iga Swiatek, signed a massive victory on Wednesday against the Croatian Petra Martic, to whom she only conceded three games: 6-0 and 6-3. Thus, the Pole will meet in the semifinals this Thursday (not before 9:00 p.m., Teledeporte) with the Russian Veronika Kudermetova, who defeated Jessica Pegula 6-4, 0-6, 6-4.
Swiatek, 21, and recent champion in Stuttgart, has linked eight victories on the tour on clay and continues to not slow down. She was absent in the last edition due to a shoulder injury, she is progressing now in Madrid with sufficiency; only Ekaterina Alexandrova has been able to scratch a set from him.
At the other crossing, the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, defending champion, will collide with the Greek Maria Sakkari. It will be from 4:00 p.m. on the center court.
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