Alcaraz Sets Up Sinner Clash In Paris
The 18-year-old Spaniard let slip a 4-2 lead in the first set, but regained the momentum when he clinched six straight points in the second-set tie-break en route to a 7-6(4), 6-7(2), 7-5 victory over two hours and 53 minutes.
“It’s not easy to play against a home player,” said Alcaraz. “I think we played a good level and it was a great match, so I am happy to win. He has a great serve, so I had to return better and remain focus. I think that was the key. I am playing at a good level and I want to finish the year strong.”
Alcaraz will next challenge fellow #NextGenATP and eighth-seeded Italian Jannik Sinner, who is attempting to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at the Pala Alpitour in Turin from 14-21 November. Alcaraz beat Sinner 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 in an ATP Challenger Tour event in Alicante in April 2019.
Herbert converted the 57-minute opener with a forehand approach winner on his third set point opportunity, but in the second-set tie-break saw a 2/0 lead evaporate as Alcaraz won 11 of the next 12 points.
Alcaraz fought off two break points at 1-1 in the decider and was later gifted a 4-2 advantage, courtesy of a Herbert double fault. The Frenchman broke back to love, with his best game of the match, and delivered again at 5-6, when he saved two match points, just as Alcaraz's groundstroke power was earning rewards. The match ended with consecutive double faults.
“The end was catastrophic after two hours and 53 minutes of intense fight,” said Herbert. “It was a fantastic tennis match, and I was not far from taking advantage. It was a beautiful match. What a pity to finish like I did. It's really terrible.”
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Having come into the 2021 season with just one tour-level win, Alcaraz lifted his first ATP Tour title at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag (d. Gasquet) in July. Five weeks later, he became the youngest US Open quarter-finalist in the Open Era after an inspired run that included a third-round upset of Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The World No. 35, who has compiled a 26-16 match record this year, will compete at the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held in Milan from 9-13 November. Last week, he reached the Erste Bank Open semi-finals in Vienna (l. to Zverev).
When asked about Alcaraz, Herbert said, “He's a phenomenon because he's winning with maturity, which is extraordinary for his age. He has results that only the best are able to have at his age, so he's an excellent tennis player… He impressed me indeed with his maturity for his age. But I knew that [already].”