Carlos Alcaraz insisted Sunday that he is not Rafael Nadal’s “alternative” as the teen effortlessly defended his Barcelona name, bolstering his bid to succeed his compatriot as French Open champion.
The 19-year-antique brushed aside Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-three, 6-four to feature the Barcelona trophy to wins in Buenos Aires and Indian Wells in 2023. He now has 9 career titles.With 14-time French Open champion Nadal sidelined considering that January with a hip injury and international primary and two-time Roland Garros winner Novak Djokovic suffering with an elbow trouble, Alcaraz reinforced his credentials as a major contender to feature the clay-courtroom Grand Slam name to the US Open he captured closing yr.
However, he become brief to hose down speculation that he is the French Open champion-in-waiting, just five weeks out from the second main of the 12 months in Paris.
“I do not need to be all people’s substitute,” said world quantity Alcaraz whilst faced together with his popularity as heir obvious to Nadal who turns 37 in June.
Nadal hasn’t played on the grounds that his 2nd round go out at the Australian Open and has overlooked Masters events at Indian Wells, Miami and Monte Carlo in addition to sitting out Barcelona for a 2nd successive yr.
“In the 2 years that Rafa hasn’t been here, I’ve been fortunate or, let’s say, I’ve won the identify,” said Alcaraz who defended his Barcelona name without losing a fixed.
His win on Sunday became his fourth in four conferences in opposition to 5th-ranked Tsitsipas.
“I’ve always desired to play against the quality, it’s a shame that we have not been able to enjoy Rafa those remaining years,” introduced Alcaraz.
“Let’s desire he keeps to play for a long time and that we will enjoy his tennis, however manifestly we aren’t here to take over from anyone, however to construct our personal records.”
Alcaraz’s caution is justified. Despite Nadal’s continuing harm woes, he boasts a stunning win-loss file at the French Open of 112 wins against just 3 losses seeing that his name-prevailing 2005 debut.
Two of those defeats came towards Djokovic who shares the men’s document of twenty-two majors with Nadal.
Djokovic reached that mark with a tenth Australian Open victory in January.
Despite concerns over his elbow, he is aware of that historically he improves because the clay season progresses – his file shows Monte Carlo titles, three at Madrid and 6 in Rome, the final widespread event earlier than Roland Garros.
Djokovic has efficaciously bounced returned from elbow worries within the beyond – in February 2018, he needed surgery on the harm however nonetheless won Wimbledon and the USA Open later that yr.
Both Nadal and Djokovic are sitting out the Madrid Masters in which Alcaraz is the defending champion.
“Roland Garros is a clean brief-time period goal,” brought Alcaraz.
“It’s a tournament I really need to win, however now we are targeted on Madrid and then Rome. Winning the event right here in Barcelona gives me extra self assurance for what’s to come back.”
Holger Rune, like Alcaraz also just 19, defended his Munich name on Sunday but unlike the Spaniard, needed to warfare back from the threshold of defeat.
Plagued with the aid of a shoulder damage, which wished a medical time-out, the Dane got here returned from five-2 down inside the third set and saved four fit factors to look off Botic van de Zandschulp 6-four, 1-6, 7-6 (7/three) in a rematch of last 12 months’s final.
“It is the ultimate healthy and the remaining push, so you try to find a way,” stated Rune who heads to Madrid having in no way previously performed within the match.
Also heading to Madrid with self assurance is ladies’s international number one Iga Swiatek, the reigning US and French Open champion.
On Sunday, she defeated Australian Open champion and 2nd-ranked Aryna Sabalenka 6-three, 6-four to claim a second successive Stuttgart name.
“I desired to win certainly, honestly hard, however I knew that I can not really consciousness on that and simply I ought to keep doing my job as I did in previous matches,” said the Pole.
“I’m quite satisfied that I should type of have an excellent mentality and simply awareness on what I want to do tennis-smart.”