SportsAgainst the wind and Daniel, the official Alcaraz

    Against the wind and Daniel, the official Alcaraz

    Carlos Alcaraz, 20, finds it strange having to express himself in English with Àlex Corretja, the man who congratulates him and interviews him after the young king of the circuit has sealed his access to the third round in Paris: 6-1 , 3-6, 6-1 and 6-2 to the Japanese Taro Daniel, after 2h 26m. “He has been tough due to the conditions”, specifies the winner, quoted in the following season of the tournament with the Canadian Denis Shapovalov (6-2, 3-6, 6-3 and 6-3 to Matteo Arnaldi). “But you have to adjust your game as much as you can. In tournaments like this, you have to know how to adapt to what may arise, be fully concentrated ”, he adds, referring to the incidence of gusts of wind, a nuisance that tests his patience and costs him a blur. In any case, test passed. He must have it to complete the plan, which points solely and exclusively towards June 11, the date of the final.

    This second round is born among the constant murmur of the stands, a consequence of the imbalance that it offers from the start. Two worlds, two realities: that of the exception and that of the day laborer; the Japanese earn their bread, but he bursts in defeated, as if asking for permission. As happened in the premiere on Monday with Flavio Cobolli, the Murcian finds himself facing a tender and indefinite rival, soft on all four sides and impressed by Alcaraz’s inertia. To Daniel –already a veteran, 30 years old and out of top-100, 112º– the seams pop immediately. She finds no escape. He chases the ball from one side to the other and does not arrive, or he arrives late, destabilized, gelatinous support and little faith in the replica. The Murcian savors the caramel and the story looks rather brief; this is going to be the blink of an eye, he’s suspected at headquarters. Maybe, it seems. Or maybe not. There is a trap, there is a turn: the afternoon is twisted.

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    There are several factors. To begin with, one as decisive as the wind, which these days is making mischief in Paris and requires an uncomfortable exercise in improvisation, recalibrating each shot on the fly; it blows hard on the north flank of the plant and once inside, it generates circular currents that destabilize the natural course of the point. Difficult, therefore, to maintain the pattern of play. The loss of control is preceded by the lazy rhythm that is imposed when Alcaraz navigates placidly in favor, counterproductive. Contrary to his nature, number one temporizes and doses, and the handbrake ends up penalizing him. At that leisurely march, his tennis yearns for something, it loses its value. He needs spicy, flutter and feel. Flow. He enjoys the vertigo and the impact, it’s 20 years. His thing is rock n’ roll, nothing soft melodic intermissions. Dragged by his own dynamics, he loses gas and concedes a partial.

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    He is not going to wrap the matches in chloroform. However, the plan is more than clear: this is a Grand Slam, every effort counts and the body has memory. Seven scales, five now ahead. Containment, there is no other. The guideline is clear: “Head, Carlitos, head,” his team repeats over and over again, from the coach to the agent, including the physio. A great is a long distance race and the slightest misstep can make everything go to hell, so these days it will not be strange to see him economize. The bases, assures Juan Carlos Ferrero, are well laid; another magnificent preparatory layout and shots on point. He now prioritizes his circle that rations and accepts the need to think in the medium term, not to burn more than is due unless the situation requires it at certain times. Somehow, Alcaraz will have to betray himself.

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    The pasty afternoon ends with no major shock than that of the delivered set because Daniel –formed in Valencia and also inferior in the only precedent between the two, 2021, challenger de Oeiras– gradually consumes itself naturally, without really disturbing or delaying the irremediable. Idling and working version, intelligent in an unappetizing context, the Spaniard –47 winners and 36 errors– wins and progresses in the direction of Shapovalov, from the unruly club. With 32 wins in the 35 games that he has played this season, 22 of 24 on clay, the man from El Palmar advances and continues to impose the logic of this course, in which there is no racket with greater authority than his. Of course, this time he applies the pause. It is not accidental. Roland Garros, the great marathon, it is well worth rethinking the strategy and learning to use the brake.

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    Source: EL PAIS

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