Monday, December 11, 2023

Carlos Alcaraz is choking (again) in autumn: “I have a lot to improve”

One more year, and it is beginning to become a habit, the Paris-Bercy Masters 1,000 surpassed again Carlos Alcaraz. The Murcian tennis player wants, or tries to, but he can’t (yet) when autumn appears and the season faces its final stretch. If two years ago it was because of the mental block Hugo Gastontears included, and the past due to the abdominal tear before Holger Runein this was the unexpected defeat against the Russian Roman Safuilin the one that forced him to say goodbye at the first opportunity of one of the few tournaments in which he has not yet been able to shine in his early career.

A seen and unseen that acts as a bad omen for what is to come, its debut in a finals ATP who was lost last year due to injury and who will now arrive with doubts about his game and with hardly any filming. Alcaraz, winner practically all year round and on all surfaces, still does not know what it is like to reach a final once he has overcome Septemberwhen tournaments begin to be played in closed and indoor venues.

With 73 matches played in 15 tournaments (six wins) throughout the year, number two gives off the feeling that the year is getting long. Without spark, disconnected at times and with signs of both physical and mental fatigue, the duel against Safiulin clearly showed an Alcaraz blurred and far from level which has maintained during the rest of the year.

“The season has been very, very intense, and that probably affects my game. I have to find a way to be better in this part of the season in the coming years,” he said after losing in the first round in Paris, something that had not happened so far in any tournament of the year, before acknowledging that he was “hurt” and “disappointed with his level” in recent dates.

“Zero chance” of finishing the year number one

After reaching the semifinals of the US Open, where he fell defeated before Daniil Medvedevthe number two took a break before facing the last stretch of the year, in which the asian tour after four years of absence from the calendar. Alcaraz arrived there announcing that he was facing the end of the year with the purpose of assaulting the number one in the rankingin hands of Novak Djokovic.

“I think about him in every training session. I have to give my 100% if I want to catch him, and that’s why I come with a extra motivation to achieve it,” the Murcian even said, in a message that, in the end, given the results and the sensations on the track, had more than attempt at self-convince that is a real threat to the Serbian.

To the defeat in the semifinals in Beijing against Jannik Sinnerwhich was acceptable, was followed by the early elimination in the second round of Shanghai against Grigor Dimitrov before the surprising stumble before Safiulin in Paris. Results that have led him to rule himself out of the goal he set himself a month ago, assuming that he himself now has “zero opportunities” to close the season at the top of the ranking for the second consecutive year.

Alcaraz Alcaraz, during the match against Safiullin. EFE

“There is many things to improve, many things to train. I haven’t felt good about my game. I haven’t moved well. As for the blows, I think there has been a good quality, but in the movement part I have to improve a lot,” X-rayed this Tuesday a crestfallen Alcaraz, who ruled out any type of injury and who only has two weeks left to prepare for the last big goal of the year, the Masters tournament.

In Turin, where for the first time he will play the tournament that brings together the eight best players of the season, he will arrive with the unusual feeling in recent times of not being the great favorite. In a tournament that he does not know, and in which Djokovic is the great historical dominator, the Murcian will have to find himself again to be able to compete. Although that, right now, doesn’t worry you so much:

“I have time before ATP Finals, many days to train, to be able to reach the level I want to play at, but right now I’m not here to talk about it. Honestly, after the defeat I have to take some time before thinking about the next few days.”


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