Dominant Alcaraz sweeps Shapovalov

 - Nick McCarvel

World No.1 sets up a must-see clash with Musetti for a spot in the quarter-finals

Carlos Alcaraz, Roland-Garros 2023, third round©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

The Carlos Alcaraz freight train is gaining more speed as it makes its way down the Roland-Garros 2023 track.

There was no stopping the top seed and world No.1 Alcaraz in Friday’s evening session, the Spaniard in complete command as he dispatched 26th-seeded Denis Shapovalov, 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in a dazzling display by the 20-year-old.

Alcaraz’s 23rd win of the season on clay (against just two losses) advances him to the fourth round, where fellow youngster Lorenzo Musetti of Italy awaits. Musetti owns their only previous meeting: A three-set classic in last year’s Hamburg final, on clay.

Story of the match

Alcaraz came out firing to start, racing to a 4-0 lead in just 19 minutes. Shapovalov worked to win just one game, but the opening set belonged to Alcaraz at 6-1 in 37 minutes.

An undeterred Shapovalov showed flashes of his own brilliance as set two got underway, the two players trading a trio of breaks before the 24-year-old claimed a 4-1 lead, thanks in part to a canon of an inside-out forehand winner from Shapovalov.

The lead, however, was short-lived, as Alcaraz held and then won a pivotal 16-shot rally to earn break point. A Shapovalov unforced error gave the break lead back for a second time in the set, and then the two played perhaps the point of the match, a cat-and-mouse chase that saw a flurry of drop shots from both as Alcaraz scooped a forehand winner into the open court.

At 4-all now, Shapovalov couldn’t halt the Alcaraz momentum. The Spaniard broke to win a fourth consecutive game and closed out the set at 6-4 in the following game.

Shapovalov left court for a toilet break and mental reset, but the writing was on the clay wall: Alcaraz broke from go in the third and consolidated, earning a 2-0 lead.

Shapovalov would win a four-deuce game to hold at for 1-2, letting out a guttural roar, but he couldn’t make any further noise on the Alcaraz serve, and a second break for 4-1 all but assured the top seed’s victory.

Carlos Alcaraz, Denis Shapovalov, Roland-Garros 2023, third round©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

Key stats

The two-hour, 10-minute match saw Shapovalov hit 39 unforced errors, a dooming stat against Alcaraz.

Shapovalov struggled with his serve, too, getting just 56 per cent of first serves in and winning only 51 per cent of those points played.

Aside from his hiccup in set two, Alcaraz didn’t face a break point in the match, making 73 per cent of his own first serve deliveries.

Alcaraz, as usual, was unrelenting: He hit 25 winners and went 21 from 29 at the net. He hit 14 drop shots in the match, four of them for outright winners and won 55 per cent of receiving points while breaking Shapovalov some seven times.

What Alcaraz said

A beaming Alcaraz chatted to Marion Bartoli on court after the match, addressing the second set blip: “I was in trouble a little bit. I started to make more mistakes, but I had to be there all the time mentally.

“I knew that I was going to have my chances to come back.”

Overall, he said: “I felt great. I think I played a good level the whole match. I hope to take this level into the next round.”

Alcaraz discussed his many accomplishments already at age 20, but there's more he’d like to achieve: “I realised my dreams so quick; I have achieved great things in such a short period of my career. My dream right now in tennis is to win every tournament I play, fight for every Grand Slam. I want to challenge the top guys to try and see myself with the best [players]. I want to achieve more titles.”

And of the Musetti clash: “I know him very well. We played a lot of matches as kids. He beat me last year. Hopefully I’m going to enjoy [the match].”