Alcaraz has no mercy for Musetti

Spaniard took his revenge on the No.17 seed to reach second consecutive RG quarter-final

Carlos Alcaraz, huitièmes de finale, Roland-Garros 2023©Philippe Montigny / FFT
 - Chris Oddo

Carlos Alcaraz had never tasted defeat in an ATP final prior to falling to Lorenzo Musetti in last year’s Hamburg title match. In the pair’s only previous meeting ahead of Sunday’s round of 16 encounter on Court Philippe-Chatrier, it was the Italian who came away with a surprising, dramatic victory. 

On Sunday their heavily-anticipated second encounter was thought to be a potential stumbling block for the top-seeded Spaniard, but Alcaraz had other ideas. 

It was Musetti who notched the first service break as play got underway in the late afternoon heat, but Alcaraz dominated the rest of the way, scoring his revenge, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2, to set a quarter-final clash with either fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas or Austria’s Sebastian Ofner.

The world No.1 continues to fly through the draw, and he has now won 11 consecutive matches at the Grand Slam level.

Story of the match 

Musetti snaked his way effortlessly through the first two games of the contest to catch the attention of the lively Chatrier crowd, but his efforts served to wake the sleeping giant on Alcaraz’s side of the court. The Spaniard switched into high gear in the third game, clocked high-octane forehands with abandon, and left Musetti flat-footed for the remainder of the set. 

13 winners and 13 forced errors later, the tone of the contest had completely flipped: Alcaraz wrapped up the opener 6-3. 

Far from content, Alcaraz continued to pepper Musetti with blistering power and dazzling defence. Even when he wasn’t unleashing brute force he was showing off his sublime touch to keep the 21-year-old out of sorts. 

Alcaraz broke for 2-0 in the second set, and though Musetti broke back for 2-all, it was clear which player had the mojo on this day. The 20-year-old put pressure on Musetti in all corners of the court, and never let his rival play the free-flowing, interpretive tennis that he excels at.

Alcaraz reeled off the final four games of set two, then weathered a push from Musetti early in the third set before sailing off to victory in a hurried two hours and eight minutes.

Key stats 

Musetti’s inability to win service points was the true bane of his existence on Sunday. He was constantly in trouble, both behind his first and second offerings. In the second set it was particularly challenging for Musetti - he won just 14 of 33 service points in the stanza.

Though he was stronger on serve in the third set, it was never going to be enough to stop Carlitos' way to victory. The relentless return game of the Murcia native allowed Musetti to win just 48 per cent of his service points for the match.

Not nearly enough, especially with the Spaniard clicking on 77 per cent of his first-serve points.

It wasn't just the serve. Alcaraz's quickness to the punch and commitment to outgunning his opponent played a role in all of Musetti's missteps. The world No.1 pummeled 42 winners to 17 for the Italian - with both players committing 23 unforced errors each.

Carlos Alcaraz, huitièmes de finale, Roland-Garros 2023©Philippe Montigny / FFT

What the winner said

Alcaraz, on his sublime effort: "I think I played such a great level. A really high quality of shots. I adapted my game really well to the wind and played really aggressive - I think I played a really complete match from the first ball until the last one. I'm really happy to get through this really tough round against Lorenzo."

Alcaraz, on dealing with top seed pressure: "I try not to think about the No.1 ranking, the pressure, that I'm one of the main favourites to win the tournament. I try to get all those thoughts out of my mind. I try just to play tennis, to enjoy. I try to smile a lot of the time and this is the key of everything for me: to smile, to enjoy, to try to make impossible shots and to try to make the people enjoy watching the tennis. It's all I think about during the match."