Masters Miami. The best Alcaraz, in the semifinals

Exhibition of the talented Spaniard to make Fritz desperate. He will play Sinner for a spot in the finals.

When Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are asked what they think of their respective rivals in the ‘Big Three‘, they all answer the same thing: “Because of them I have had a brilliant career”. “They have pushed me to be better,” they systematically confess. And in that reflection lies an irrefutable truth, there is no doubt. But there is a detail that they do not underline, due to the excellence of their opponents. If they had not endured and responded to each other’s challenges, there would have been no such competition. And, consequently, they would not have reached such legendary heights.

Well, that conclusion is reached by watching matches like the one he played in the early hours of this Friday Carlos Alcaraz. He had the tenth best player on the planet in front of him, Taylor Fritz, a warrior capable of stealing from Nadal the Masters 1,000 in Indian Wells a year ago -dragging an injury-. And he proposed to the American a demanding dialogue, so that they both benefited from the harsh shared examination. Because, after all, the Spaniard is 19 years old and the North American is 25. They are of an age to grow, learn and improve.

But in 2023, Alcaraz is having a hard time finding opponents who will force him to raise his level. Because he sometimes looks like Federer, other times Djokovic and other times Nadal. And sometimes, like today, the three myths are mixed in his tennis. In the last month and a half no one has stopped him. Only the Florida rain has interrupted his triumphant march. Due to this atmospheric phenomenon, he could not play these quarterfinals on Thursday Masters 1.000 de Miami. Still, despite the postponement,’Carlitos‘ flew again. She swept over Fritz with a naturalness that causes astonishment. He squeezed him at the beginning and ended up getting the local tennis player mad (6-4 y 6-2).

The Californian had said in the previous one that “we are going to have fun.” He was not wrong, although he was left out of said omen. Before this meeting he had only given up his service twice -in the three previous duels-; on this date he lost it in the first game of the stake. That’s how quickly the world number one clarified the relationship of forces, who jumped onto the track with a will to dominate. he wanted start by giving Fritz a complex, with his repertoire taken to the maximum expression. All of this at the gallop of an abrasive rhythm studied in match strategy.

The American endured the downpour as best he could. He had no choice but to wake up at full speed and change his temperate style to hit with risk. If not, he would derail from the prologue. The Murcian constrained him to that early emergency situation. And he showed his stamina by piling up forehand winners – his backhand being the truly damaging weapon. He escaped from the trap in his second serving turn, in a game that lasted more than 14 minutes -he served 20 times-, to avoid the 3-0. An outrage that took his concentration to the extreme.

He stayed afloat with a reaction full of pride, taming the attacks of the young volcano born in El Palmar. And he managed to squeeze something to an impious Alcaraz, which he accelerated even more when he found himself harassed. His superiority did not allow Fritz joy all night. He managed the advantage with aplomb and security, well committed to defending his service. Waiting for his rival’s flow of winning blows to dry up, as it would inevitably happen, in strict compliance with the planned plan. For forcefulness, cunning and speed. He closed the set in 46 minutes.

The American felt very bad not having reached the shore in his rebirth. He had a turn to serve to open the second sleeve and he fell a break in white. The definitive hook that he sent to the canvas. There Fritz’s mental toughness was diluted – the final set lasted 21 minutes. Once again he had to row against the current to aspire to a very complicated comeback; again he had to break a tennis player in full that was demanding to the extreme. And he was not able. The mountain seemed too big to him and his gestures of frustration accumulated. Rhetorical questions such as ‘what do I do to hold on?’, ‘why don’t I get hit?’. Issues that emanate in the head of his opponents’Carlitos‘ with surprising frequency.

The californian impotence, who shot his unforced errors, paved the way for Alcaraz. The Murcian competed without blinking, firm. Brighter and brighter, tonight from the stillness. He doubted Fritz even served him and in the last game on his serve he committed two double faults, tortured by the rest of the talented Spaniard. And mumbling his inability. He extended his stay on the track to one hour and 17 minutes. He left upset, unable to express his consistent good tennis. Without having fun, in short. Quite the opposite of ‘Carlitos‘. This year he has 18 victories -and the titles of Argentina and Indian Wells- and only one loss -in the final of Rio, when he played touched-. They are already 10 games in a row without losing a set.