Carlos Alcaraz slips into the round of 16 and continues to intimidate his opponents

The game had started thirty-one minutes before Denis Shapovalov he raised his arms, half smiling, half resigned, taking as a witness the audience of the Philippe-Chatrier court, who came to celebrate the beginning of the weekend at the Central de Roland-Garros, on Friday evening June 2nd. The Canadian had just saved two set points against Carlos Alcaraz and scored his first game of the match, thwarting his opponent’s plan, who would have gladly given him the 6-0.

The image alone sums up the “effect” that Spanish has on those who face it for the first time, like the 32And world championship, beaten in the third round (6-1, 6-4, 6-2). Power that moves, explosiveness on the forehand and desire to chase every ball as if each one were a match point. “I enjoyed watching videos of him when he was 8-9, then 12-13 when he played little As [le championnat du monde officieux des moins de 14 ans, à Tarbes], his technique is almost similar to today’s, which means that even as a child he had very high, even very rare, natural muscular and coordination skills.attests Marion Bartoli, Prime Video consultant during the Paris fortnight.

At the age of 20 (he celebrated them on May 5), the prodigy from El Palmar (Murcia) is playing his first Grand Slam as the world number 1 – the youngest since the creation of the ATP ranking in 1973 – and with the ‘label of favorite according to his rank. If the 2023 edition of Roland-Garros promises to be more open than in previous years in the absence of the owner of the place, Rafael Nadal, his compatriot’s name comes out on top on an equal footing with that of Novak Djokovic.

“Obviously it’s a bit crazy to see my name as number 1 in the world at a Grand Slam, he declared the winner of the 2022 US Open on May 26, three days before entering the competition. But I no longer feel any pressure before playing this tournament in this state. I’m not saying I’m the No. 1 favorite. 1, I’m just putting myself on the list of those who can win Roland-Garros, like many others. »

“I am mentally stronger”

And the absence of his glorious Majorcan elder doesn’t change his ambitions in the tournament. “Even if Rafael Nadal had been there, I would have given myself no less chance of winning”says the one who was stopped in the quarterfinals by the German Alexander Zverev in 2022. In the youngest there shouldn’t be any cheek, simply a desire for competition that has been boiling in him since the cradle, or almost.

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