Carlos Alcaraz, a Spanish tennis player, had a day full of firsts on Saturday. In his 200 professional tour matches, the 20-year-old had never faced a player younger than him. If he wins that match, he will also play in the Australian Open’s second week for the first time.
Given his incredible accomplishments in the sport thus far, it almost seems odd that Alcaraz has never made it to the fourth round at Melbourne Park. The young player made his debut here in 2022 and went on to win two grand slam titles in 2023 (the US Open that year and Wimbledon last year, where he defeated Novak Djokovic in the championship match). He also became the youngest person to be ranked No. 1 in the world. He has a hamstring problem that kept him out of the Australian Open in 2023.
Alcaraz stated to this masthead prior to the tournament that he hoped to defeat Djokovic at “his house,” Rod Laver Arena, the venue where the Serbian master has won ten of his remarkable twenty-four grand slam victories. To get closer to that objective on Monday, though, the second-seeded Alcaraz will have to get by another Serb, the 60th-ranked Miomir Kecmanovic.
Carlos Alcaraz has never advanced to the fourth round at Melbourne Park, which almost seems strange considering his amazing achievements in the sport to far. The youthful athlete made his debut here in 2022 and went on to win two grand slam titles in 2023 (winning both the Wimbledon championship match last year and the US Open the same year, against Novak Djokovic). In addition, he became the youngest person to hold the top spot globally. He was unable to compete in the 2023 Australian Open due to a hamstring issue.
In the final game of the second, Shang glanced at the trainer and had his thigh massaged during the intermission. However, in the first game of the third, he was clearly having trouble and retired with what looked to be a quad injury.
But Alcaraz’s signature forehand acceleration helped him dominate rallies both short and lengthy even early in the game. Shang found it difficult to maintain control over his shots while managing to get his racquet on the ball due to the world No. 2’s immense strength.
After being put to the test by Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego in his second-round match, Alcaraz was back to his former self. He even took time to enjoy the afternoon vibe of Rod Laver Arena, laughing and swaying to the Village People’s Y.M.C.A. while the audience enthusiastically changed ends.