Sebastián Baez, dressed in black and with his 1.70 height, runs and jumps around the New York headquarters as if he were a flea in search of a well-populated head of hair. The Argentine resists, demands and attacks, although Carlos Alcaraz unlocks a severe conflict situation in the second quarter, in which the third game is delayed for 14 minutes of litigation. “You have to get him out of the jar, today it’s time to suffer!”, His coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, shouts at him, now that for the first time in the history of a great, instructions from the bench are allowed. The knot resolved, the rival, who has already been treated by the doctor, definitely raises the white flag and the Spaniard advances: 7-5, 7-5 and 2-0, in 2h 31m.
“Nobody deserves to end like this. In the second set I had a hard time continuing at my level, both physically and mentally, but the energy I feel on this court is special. The [Báez]he has fought until the last ball, he deserves the best”, the boy concedes as soon as he finishes, 19 springs and endless emotions on the journey experienced over the past year, from New York to New York. It was here, in the wild territory of tennis —called The Jungle because of the explosiveness of the public and the sessions—, where he officially presented his letter of introduction. When he had barely gotten half a foot into professionalism, he knocked out Stefanos Tsitsipas, number three in the world, and reached the quarters.
It was the prelude to the boom, which was verified in March with the title of Miami and that had a tour with those of Barcelona and Madrid; before he trod Umag, the first joy in the elite, and in between Rio de Janeiro. Suddenly, a flush of success. Contracts. Millions of eyes and flashes above. Selfies and more selfies. A load as irremediable as it is heavy. Alcaraz handled the situation in an exceptional way until late in the summer and with a more than considerable load on his body, he began to really feel the vertigo derived from living in the heights.
“For the first time, he hasn’t been able to handle the pressure. I have to train and be ready to deal with this pressure”, he admitted after losing in the first round in Montreal against Tommy Paul, in his earliest loss of the season along with the one suffered against Sebastian Korda in Monte Carlo. Then, after falling in the Principality, he attributed the poor result to windiness and inaccuracy when finishing off some specific situations; in Canada, however, he ended up worried because the situation had surpassed him and that, in his case, was something new.
In the brilliant development of this year, the tennis player –second with the most victories (45) after Tsitsipas (46)– has been processing what stardom means and being one of the wheels to follow. Now, to try to mitigate the dizziness, it is necessary to “enjoy again” and put aside the suit of that Alcaraz that impresses and to whom everyone points out to return to the essence of Carlitos who fears nothing or no one. “The same child as always”, he exposes, quoted in the next round of the tournament with Federico Coria (30 years old and 78th in the world).
“In a Masters 1,000 there are many players, but having won two and being seeded number two, I felt [en Montreal] that need to want to win. That made me not be at my level or enjoy the game, and if you don’t enjoy yourself on the court, you’re lost”, the player who has been described as the new Nadal observed upon his arrival in New York, with all that this implies. “There is a little bit of pressure on me, but I try not to think about it. I’m not The Next [el siguiente]. I am number four. I live in the moment, I am not thinking about whether I am the next big player or the next big player, ”she concludes.
MUGURUZA AND BADOSA PASS THE CUT
AC | New York
Garbiñe Muguruza was added to the advance of Alcaraz, who won a big 225 days later (6-3 and 7-6 (5) to Clara Tauson) and met the young Linda Fruhvirtova (17 years old, 167th in the world) . “This gives me energy and joy,” said the number nine in the world, who managed to overcome the first barrier after tripping this course in Paris and London.
Paula Badosa also progressed, although with more suffering and after coming back from Lesia Tsurenko: 3-6, 7-6 (4) and 6-3, in 2h 29m. The 24-year-old Catalan equaled last year’s scale and will face Petra Martic (6-4 and 7-6(3) against Varvara Gracheva). Joining the group of qualifiers were Albert Ramos (6-3, 6-4 and 7-5 against Norbet Gombos) and Cristina Bucsa, who recorded her first Grand Slam win (double 6-4 against Kaja Juvan).
In contrast, Fernando Verdasco and Pedro Martínez said goodbye: 6-2, 6-7(4), 6-3 and 6-3 for Soon-Woo Kwon and 7-5, 6-3 and 7-6(3) favorable to Christopher Eubanks.
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