A FOUR and a half hour epic battle saw an escape from Carlos Alcaraz, who fought back from a two sets to one deficit against fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the second round of Roland Garros yesterday. The rising star and sixth seed is one of the favourites at the tournament, and a player seemingly destined to follow hero Rafael Nadal‘s path to multiple Paris Grand Slams in the the future, but he very nearly did not make it through to the Round of 32. After a huge 6-1 6-7 5-7 7-6 6-4 struggle, Alcaraz was finally able to salute and move through to the third round.
The clash started off strongly for Alcaraz who stormed to a 6-1 lead thanks to a dominant serving performance. He only lost three points on serve, winning 10 of 12 off his first serve, and six of seven of his second, serving one ace and hitting nine winners. By contrast, Ramos-Vinolas only managed the two winners, and had a combined 17 errors to Alcaraz’s nine.
The more experienced Spaniard started to get some more consistency into his game in the second set, winning 79 per cent of his first serve points (compared to Alcaraz’s 76 per cent), whilst both won more than half of their second serve points. Neither player could break, but it was clear the result was going to be determined off Alcaraz’s racket. The teenager reeled off a whopping 20 winners in the set, but also had 24 unforced errors – 43 errors in total – compared to Ramos-Vinolas’ four winners and 26 errors. Alcaraz won 10 of his 11 net points, but Ramos-Vinolas was finding space to hit six passing shots on the clay and win the epic tiebreaker 9-7.
Alcaraz’s consistency on serve dropped in the third set, and that was always going to open the door for 44th ranked Ramos-Vinolas, he took it out 7-5 to go two sets to one up, winning 78 per cent of his first serve points off a 68 per cent clip, while Alcaraz only served at 50 per cent, which hurt his chances. Ramos-Vinolas broke Alcaraz twice – after not being able to do so in the first two sets – including one to win the set. He also upped his game to hit nine winners to only six unforced errors, compared to Alcaraz’s 13 and 15. By the end of the set, Ramos-Vinolas was in the box seat.
Alcaraz is known for his fighting spirit and he dug deep in the fourth set to force a fifth decider off the back of some outstanding approach shots. WInning 11 of his 14 net points (79 per cent) compared to Ramos-Vinolas’ three of eight (38 per cent), Alcaraz made Ramos-Vinolas uncomfortable and got him out of his zone. He also hit more winners (16-11), but critically less unforced errors (17-20) and rattled the usually consistent Ramos-Vinolas. It still went to a tiebreaker, but this time it was the young gun who stepped up, taking it out 7-2 to level the match.
In many ways, Alcaraz saved his best until last. Though his first set had blown away his opponent, his fifth set – when he should be fatiguing – was testament to his sheer determination, as well as his ability. He served up four aces and won 69 per cent of his first serve points, compared to Ramos-Vinolas’ none and 50 per cent. He was averaging 193 km/h serves, including clocking one up to 215 km/h, and broke three times to Ramos’ Vinolas’ two. Though neither player were as steadfast on their serve, Alcaraz dominated around the court, hitting 16 winner to six and only four more unforced errors (11-7). He hit nine volleys to four and was will to mix up his shots to get the win, with his third and final break sealing the result.
In total, Alcaraz served 10 aces to two, and won 72 and 59 per cent of his first and second serve points, compared to two, 64 and 48 per cent from his opponent. The stark contrast was in the manner of points won, as the sixth seed slammed home 74 winners to 32, and though he got into trouble with identical 74 unforced errors to Ramos-Vinolas’ 54, he also won 72 per cent of his net points to his opponents’ 55 per cent. His work at the net and around the court – which feature 33 volleys and 25 drop shots to Ramos-Vinolas’ nine and 10 respectively, also helped him vary his game.
AROUND THE COURTS
Alcaraz was not the only player to get out of jail, with 15th seed Diego Schwartzman fighting back from a two sets to love deficit to put away Spaniard Jaume Munar, 2-6 6-7 6-2 6-2 6-2. The big upset in the men’s draw was a win by Bernabe Zapata Miralles, with the world 131 stunning American 13th seed Taylor Fritz in four sets, 3-6 6-2 6-2 6-3 to advance to the Round of 32. Otherwise the results largely went to plan with the main seeds moving through such as Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev. Bolters in the last 12 months Cameron Norrie and Botic Van de Zandschulp moved through in straight set wins.
In the women’s draw, there were plenty of big results, starting with the capitulation of US Open winner and 12th seed Emma Raducanu. The teenager won the first set against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, before only winning two more games for the match as the Sasnovich secured the 3-6 6-1 6-1 triumph. Another US Open winner also departed in Canadian Bianca Andreescu. The rising, but always unluckily injured talent Andreescu was no match for 14th seed Swiss star Belinda Bencic, with the result 6-2 6-4 in favour of Bencic.
Czech Karolina Muchova ousted Greek fourth seed Maria Sakkari in a couple of tiebreakers to win through to the third round, while in a battle of the young guns, 19-year-old Diane Parry – who defeated reigning champion and second seed Barbora Krejcikova in the first round – knocked off Colombian 20-year-old Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, 6-3 6-3. The other major upset was Australian Daria Saville‘s triumph over 32nd seed Petra Kvitova 6-4 6-2 to advance through to the next round.