Carlos Alcaraz has left his mark at the Pala Alpitour in Turin, where he is trying to become one of the earliest contenders ever in the season’s finale event.
The 20-year-old world No. 2 scored the first victory of his career at the Nitto ATP Finals, beating Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-2 to keep his goal of reaching the semifinals alive. In a clash between two players forced to win, the Murcian exhibited impeccable survival skills.
After being defeated in his debut in three vibrant sets by the two-time champion Alexander Zverev, the Murcian responded bravely to take a 1-1 record in the Red Group and leave his qualification aspirations open until the last day.
“The match and the level have been totally different. This is the level I must play to give myself a chance in this incredible tournament,” said Alcaraz. “Yesterday was a good day in training to find the tennis I needed today. I think I did pretty well and I’m happy with my level of play.”
Alcaraz and Rublev drew the first chapter of the Lexus ATP Head2Head history with an intense performance worthy of the stage. Forehands flew from one side of the net to the other, setting the stage for a fast-paced match. In that environment, Carlos’s composure crossed the path of Andrey’s strong temperament, gripped by nerves in the decisive moments of the match.
“You need to relax. The track is very, very fast,” said the Spaniard. “I need to attack first, you have to be more aggressive than your rival. It is the key if you want to have a chance in this tournament.”
In a flat first round, Alcaraz protected his game from the order. The Spaniard did not concede a single breaking ball and accelerated his hitting of the rest in the final stretch of the set. With increasing pressure, Carlos generated break chances in his last two return games. In the 11th game of the duel, a dead backhand from Rublev directly into the doubles corridor gave the helm of the scoreboard to the Spaniard, who closed the first set with his serve.
Carlos took advantage of his rival’s delirium to immediately mark the territory, linking five consecutive games until the 2-0 wall of the second set. Unlike the first match, Juan Carlos Ferrero’s pupil was able to maintain ease with his serve and intensity in his groundstrokes, making Rublev retreat in the face of adversity. The world No. 2 won the last 12 points of the match to round out the victory.
Alcaraz is competing for the first time at the Nitto ATP Finals after completing another stellar season on the circuit. In a 2023 where he lifted six individual trophies, including his second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon and the ATP Masters 1000 crowns in Indian Wells and Madrid, the Murcian is looking for a cherry on top of prestige in the city of Turin.
With his destination in Turin still to be decided, Alcaraz will complete the group stage by facing third seed Daniil Medvedev on Friday.
Rublev, who won his first ATP Masters 1000 this year in Monte Carlo, remains with a record of 0-2 after losing to Medvedev in his debut. The current semi-finalist will close the group stage against Zverev this Friday.
In the night session, in a clash between former champions, 2020 winner Medvedev will face 2017 and 2019 winner Zverev in a duel that could define the first semifinalist of the Red Group. Daniil will qualify if he beats Alexander in two sets, while the German will advance to the group stage if he wins.
Did you know…?
Carlos Alcaraz aims to become the third youngest champion in the history of the Nitto ATP Finals. At just 20 years and 6 months, the Murcian would only follow in the footsteps of the Americans Pete Sampras (champion in 1991 at 20 years and 3 months) and John McEnroe (champion in 1978 at 19 years and 10 months)
The post first appeared on www.atptour.com