Carlos Alcaraz was wrong, who foresaw a very different duel. But nothing of that. More of the same in the Caja Mágica, witness to a one-way party; a repetition of the final of last year, in which he left Alexander Zverev in his underwear. The German, a flan again, remains naked again and fits an even more bulky score: 6-1 and 6-2, after 1h 22m. That is, he scratches one less game. There is no color and the Spanish (19 years old) enters the quarterfinals of the tournament spreading his wings, intimidating and warning: three steps separate him from being crowned again. Overwhelming, in a state of grace and solvent, he will address the Russian Karen Khachanov reaffirmed this Wednesday (not before 4:00 p.m., Movistar and Teledeporte): the scare of the premiere against Emil Ruusuvuori remains an anecdote.
After the parade, Alcaraz empathizes and speaks from compassion. “This result is not normal, Zverev is a great player. Normally it would have been a tight game, and I was prepared for it; if it’s like today, welcome, but I was prepared for something hard ”, he points out at the foot of the track; “I have played at a high level, I have not let him dominate and I have gone on the attack, I have subtracted very well; when you put the remains inside and make him play, the game is faced in another way. I repeat again, this result is not normal ”, he adds, at the same time that he comments that the original plan that he had designed consisted of subtracting from behind and attacking the second serves from the tower.
Zverev is probably the spearhead of that intermediate generation that goes from punishment to punishment, first battered by the most devastating trident in tennis history and now by a boy who hits like Mike Tyson. From one blow to another, without time to catch air. The German (26 years old, 16th in the world) has a more than significant number of trophies, 19, some of them of luster -the Masters Cup (2), Olympic gold and five Masters 1000- and others of lesser caliber, but its projection has been overshadowed by the sandwich chronological: in front were Nadal, Federer and Djokovic, and now this Alcaraz breaks and tears that, if history does not change much and does not find more opposition, can swell to titles.
Both show an evident contrast. Zverev is still basically the same Zverev that appeared on the circuit, with an imposing plant, with a service to match and a very considerable setback; However, the evolutionary line of the German suggests a relative progression, because he squeaks in the same sections in which he faltered when he took off. The protagonist of several scandals – rackets to the judge’s chair, hunted at a clandestine party in the midst of a pandemic and investigated (finally acquitted) for domestic violence – offers a feeling of stagnation aggravated by the serious injury he suffered last year while competing against Nadal at Roland Garros; this place, precisely, where he beat Alcaraz with a splendid replica. After that, he crack of the ankle, seven months off and the logical doubts.
“I don’t feel superior to anyone”
They are evident in this Madrid meeting with Alcaraz, who interprets well and goes about his business. On this occasion he does not need to take risks, it is enough for him to put them inside to open a gap. The rival, currently supervised by Sergi Bruguera, bleeds on the right and the hemorrhage is accentuated in the net; astute, the Spaniard invites him over and over again to peek into the mesh and thus accentuates the lack. Zverev fails over and over again, gray and stubborn, unable to find a loophole through which to do damage. With determination, the Murcian arranges and orders in the San Fermín headquarters, where the footballer Sergio Ramos and Carlos Sainz senior have dropped. The PSG central defender and the pilot hallucinate with the accelerations and gasp when the tennis player hits a serve at 227 kilometers per hour.
Versatile and chameleon-like, the man from El Palmar chooses one suit the same as another; the same shoots epic that shoots a whiplash, or enlarges from the strategy. Superb in the return, this time he chooses Djokovic’s clothing. To an imperial punch like Sasha he leaves it in more than discrete percentages: 55% with first and 40% with seconds.
“It’s Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Agassi at the same time, all in one. He’s the fastest guy I’ve ever seen. He is going to be the best of all time, ”said Rick Macci, one of the technicians who helped build the empire of the Williams sisters, last year. The statement is more than daring, but it is not without some reason: Alcaraz has stylistic traces of all of them.
“The most difficult rival for each player is oneself. Stopping those horses by yourself is the most complicated thing in tennis, ”he introduces to the journalists. “I don’t feel very superior, but when I feel good and confident, I know how difficult it is for my rivals to beat me. But I don’t feel superior to anyone. They must play very well to beat me, that’s right ”, he expresses himself without having granted a single break option to his opponent and having made only 12 errors; “The level has grown today compared to Dimitrov [rival en la segunda ronda]. I have been very fine, I have not left him time for anything and I have subtracted everything ”, he resolves satisfied, already thinking about how to dispatch Khachanov –two confrontations, two victories against the Russian– and to continue growing.
Zverev and Alcaraz, little or nothing to do. Faced with the dalliances of one, the fixation of the other to engrave his name in gold letters. Two-time champion in Madrid, the German will leave the top-20 next week and check again that the return will not be easy. In each exchange it melts. In the opposite direction, Alcaraz inflates his biceps and marks the distance again, linking his 18th victory on gravel in Spain and making it clear that today, there is no one who coughs him. Titles in Buenos Aires and Barcelona, to which is added the triumphal passage through Indian Wells; above all, a feeling of immense superiority underlined in this last event, a carbon copy of the one that gave him success last year. Alcaraz accelerates, and the rest continue to swallow dust in his wake.
MUNAR, DAVIDOVICH AND ZAPATA FALL
AC | Madrid
Before Alcaraz intervened, Spanish tennis lost its first two tricks in the round of 16. In the opening, the Majorcan Jaume Munar withdrew injured against the German Daniel Altmaier (with 6-3 and 6-0 against) and later Alejandro Davidovich said goodbye to the tournament, surpassed by the Croatian Borna Coric after more than three hours (6 -7(5), 6-3 and 7-6(5) Already at dawn, the Valencian Bernabé Zapata could not beat the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (6-3 and 6-1).
On the other hand, the Russian Daniil Medvedev was eliminated by his compatriot Aslan Karatsev (7-6 (1) and 6-4), after getting involved again with the Madrid stands and protesting for having to play on the second court of the venue , instead of doing it in the center. The one from Moscow, the player who has registered the most wins (33) this season, complained about the dimensions: “I don’t understand why in the fourth round of a Masters 1000 I am at a disadvantage…”.
In the women’s draw, the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka blocked the way for the Egyptian Mayar Sherif, who started well and ended up losing (2-6, 6-2 and 6-1) before the push of the defending champion.
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