Alcaraz outlasts Herbert in Paris debut to set round two clash with Sinner
18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz was pushed to the brink by Pierre-Hugues Herbert in his Paris Masters debut, but came through a thrilling three-setter to take his place in the second round.
Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz has made a habit out of winning big matches on the ATP Tour in 2021, and the 18-year-old continued that trend on Tuesday at the Rolex Paris Masters, coming through a tense tilt with crowd favourite Pierre-Hugues Herbert, 6-7(4), 7-6(2), 7-5.
The victory marked the Spaniard’s first career Masters 1000 triumph on a hard court. He improves to 26-16 overall in 2021.
Alcaraz’s maiden victory in Paris sets a second-round clash with Italy’s Jannik Sinner, the current world No 9. 20-year-old Sinner owns four titles on the season, and has notched a career-best 45 wins on tour. He and Alcaraz have never met before.
Alcaraz had to work extremely hard to grind out the victory against the veteran Frenchman on Tuesday. Herbert played magnificently at times, cracking 45 winners and winning 41 of 58 points at net.
But Alcaraz was the more consistent player of the two and he shone on the biggest points as he mounted his comeback from a set down. Neither player surrendered a break of serve in the second set, and Herbert never came close in the tiebreak as Alcaraz won the final seven points after falling behind 2-0.
In the decider Alcaraz squandered a break lead but eventually took advantage of some ill-timed nerves from Herbert’s side. The Frenchman saved two match points while serving to force a third-set tiebreak, but double-faulted on the next two points to hand Alcaraz the victory in two hours and 53 minutes.
Alcaraz v Sinner part of banner Wednesday schedule on Paris, but not on Court Central
The Wednesday order of play has been released and it is stacked with goodness. The Sinner v Alcaraz match has been scheduled on Court 1 – see the full Wednesday schedule here:
The news that this highly anticipated match was scheduled on Court 1 was met with a bit of frustration from some, including Ivan Ljubicic, current coach of Roger Federer.
Alcaraz potential Grand Slam champion? Andy Murray doesn’t see why not
Playing in just his second ATP event indoors, the Spaniard has proven to be a quick study. Alcaraz notched wins over Dan Evans, Andy Murray and Matteo Berrettini last week in Vienna, before falling to eventual champion Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals.
After Murray fell to Alcaraz last week the Scot was asked if he felt that the surging teen was a potential Slam winner.
“Yeah, I think so,” he said, adding: “It’s an impossible question to answer – how good someone is going to be. I don’t see him on a day-to-day basis, I’m not with him on the practice court, I don’t know what his work ethic is like, what his mentality is like, and all those things.”
Murray says that Alcaraz doesn’t have many weaknesses.
“He seems to have everything to be able to [win Grand Slams], but the people that are best placed to answer that really are his team and his coaches who are with him every day and see what he’s like. In terms of his game, yes he has an excellent game, there’s not many holes in his game for an 18-year-old, he doesn’t have many flaws in his game already, so if he can continue to build on that from a tennis perspective he’s right up there.”
Murray on Alcaraz: He’s unbelievably strong
Murray also talked about the power and physical prowess of the 18-year-old. Murray compared himself as an 18-year-old to the current Alcaraz, to make an example.
“I don’t really like comparing like myself to other young players, but if I think back to when I was 18 in comparison to him, from a physical perspective he’s unbelievably strong,” he said. “It wouldn’t surprise me if he did really well in a Slam and was able to win long matches, like long five-set matches, already. A lot of younger players when they are 18, 19, are not physically ready for that. I’d say that’s probably the thing that sort of stands out, physically he seems, very, very strong. He’s obviously an excellent mover around the court as well, so that’s a big positive. Hopefully he can continue to build on that and improve on that as well.”