‘I feel like I’m playing at home’: New Roland-Garros darling Alcaraz saves match point to edge past Ramos-Vinolas
Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz played the longest match of his career as he scrambled through in five sets
Carlos Alcaraz, many people’s favourite for the title at this year’s French Open, showed character to go with his shot-making to keep his title hopes alive at Roland-Garros on Wednesday, saving match point as he came from two sets to one down to beat fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
With the crowd on Court Simonne-Mathiueu more like a football crowd than tennis, the 19-year-old, seeded No 6, saved the match point in the fourth set before coming through 6-1, 6-7 (7), 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 to reach the third round.
Handed a microphone following the gruelling encounter, which lasted four hours, 34 minutes, the longest match of his career to date, Alcaraz thanked the crowd for their noisy support, saying, “I feel like I’m playing at home.”
Alcaraz will play Sebastian Korda, the No 27 seed, the last man to beat him, on clay at Monte-Carlo in April.
“Well, you always have nerves in the match, but I think today I didn’t be nerves, nervous in the match, Alcaraz said, when asked if he felt the pressure of expectation. Just maybe at the end of the fourth when I had the match point. You know that you can lose. I
“‘m trying to enjoy the moment, not to think too much that I’m at the French Open. I think that in the fourth set, and in the fifth, I smile with my team. So I enjoy that battle. I want to play big battles and tough battles against the best players in the world.”
Alcaraz ripped through the first set in no time but the left-handed Ramos-Vinolas, once ranked as high as No 17, started to make inroads, forcing the teenager into mistakes.
He took the second set on the tiebreak and the third 7-5 before the two men played out the last two sets, full of drama and excitement.
Ramos-Vinolas, who won titles in Miami and Madrid earlier this year, was a break down in the fourth set and looked a little jaded, not surprisingly, so tough were some of the points.
Ramos-Vinolas served for the match at 5-4 and had match point but dumped a forehand in the net. Alcaraz was rejuvenated and broke back before snatching the tiebreak to force a decider.
Incredible point from Alcaraz to break for 5-4 in fifth
The older Spaniard was a break up at 3-0 in the third but Alcaraz would not give in, retrieving everything and then, when he had the chance, going for broke, his forehand doing enormous damage.
Alcaraz broke to lead 4-3 only to be immediately broken back but he didn’t let his head drop. Instead, he played one outrageous point, retrieving three smashes in a row to force Ramos-Vinolas to net a backhand.
That gave him the break for 5-4 and he served out for victory, lapping up the support of the crowd.
“I didn’t see that point (back) on the phone or after the match (yet)”, he said. “But I just try to get the point. I mean, if I run side by side and it’s tough just trying to get the point. It was a great point at the end of the fifth. Long match. Be able to run like this and got the point like I did is, yeah, it’s amazing.”
Paris (Grand Slam): Other second-round results (Stade Roland-Garros, clay, EUR 43.600.000, most recent results first):
- Grigor Dimitrov (18) beat Borna Coric: 6-0, 6-4, 6-3
- Botic van de Zandschulp (26) beat Fabio Fognini: 6-4, 7-6 , 3-2 ab.
- Brandon Nakashima beat Tallon Griekspoor: 7-6 , 6-4, 6-2
- Novak Djokovic (1) beat Alex Molcan: 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 
- Diego Schwartzman (15) beat Jaume Munar: 2-6, 6-7 , 6-2, 6-2, 6-2
- Alexander Zverev (3) beat Sebastian Baez: 2-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-5
- Filip Krajinovic beat Borna Gojo (Q): 7-6 , 6-2, 5-7, 6-1
- Bernabe Zapata Miralles (Q) beat Taylor Harry Fritz (13): 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3
- Cameron Norrie (10) beat Jason Murray Kubler (Q): 6-3, 6-4, 6-3
- Aljaz Bedene beat Pablo Cuevas: 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 , 6-4
- Karen Khachanov (21) beat Hugo Dellien: 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 , 6-3
- Felix Auger-Aliassime (9) beat Camilo Ugo Carabelli (Q): 6-0, 6-3, 6-4
- John Isner (23) beat Gregoire Barrere (WC): 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6