Tennis-Alcaraz glides past Auger-Aliassime into French Open quarter-finals

By Thomson Reuters Jun 2, 2024 | 9:41 AM

By Shrivathsa Sridhar

PARIS (Reuters) -Carlos Alcaraz charged into the French Open quarter-finals for a third straight year after the twice Grand Slam champion thrashed 21st seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3 6-3 6-1 with an entertaining display at Roland Garros on Sunday.

The near-flawless win earned Alcaraz a meeting with ninth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in what will be a blockbuster rematch of their 2023 encounter at this stage, and he will look to extend his 5-0 overall advantage over the Greek player.

“I think I played a high level of tennis. Really focused. No ups and downs. I’m happy with everything. My serve, my shots, my movement on the court,” Alcaraz said after drawing level with Auger-Aliassime in what has been a close rivalry.

“I know Felix is a great player. He’s played great tennis. The head-to-head was 3-2 for him. I was looking forward to being equal to him. We both showed great tennis today.”

After an exchange of breaks early in the contest, third seed Alcaraz wasted several chances to punish Auger-Aliassime’s serve but the 21-year-old finally got his reward with a sliding volley for a 5-3 lead and held his nerve to win the next game.

Last year’s semi-finalist showcased his skills at the net again to save a break point at 1-2 in the second set and got back level after a nine-minute game, before unleashing a huge backhand down the line to grab the lead in the next game.

The 23-year-old Auger-Aliassime came out fighting following treatment for an injury but Alcaraz recovered from 0-40 down to extend his lead, delighting fans with a flicked single-handed backhand winner from deep en route to a two-set advantage.

Still playing within himself after a recent arm injury that hampered his tune-up to the Grand Slam, the world number three raced to a 5-0 lead in the third set, closing out the match in style to draw huge cheers.

“I think the most important thing is for me to believe in myself. It doesn’t matter if I don’t have too many matches on my back or that I didn’t come with a lot of rhythm,” Alcaraz said.

“I just believe in myself with my team. We put in really good work every day before coming here and every day here. After every practice and every match I was getting better and better.

“Here on Court Philippe Chatrier it’s easy to play… the history this court and this tournament has, it’s better to play and get to 100%.”

He said he was relishing his next match with former Roland Garros runner-up Tsitsipas.

“I love these kinds of matches,” he added.

“I’ve seen a lot of matches lately from Stefanos. I know he’s playing great tennis and has a lot of confidence right now. I have the key against him. I’ll try to play the shots that get him in trouble. I’ll try to show my best.

“Hopefully the crowd enjoys (it) as much as I’m going to. Let’s see how it’s going to be.”

(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in ParisEditing by Christian Radnedge and Clare Fallon)