Alcaraz Races Into Hamburg SFs

Spaniard cruises past Khachanov, faces Molcan next

Carlos Alcaraz has improved with every match this week at the Hamburg European Open. If that trend continues, he's in prime position to claim his fifth ATP Tour title of 2022, an achievement which would break a tie with Rafael Nadal for the most on the season.

The 19-year old Spaniard was at his untouchable best on Friday in a 6-0, 6-2 victory against Karen Khachanov. He fired 21 winners to seven errors as he raced into the semi-finals in just over an hour, winning a battle between the only two seeded Hamburg quarter-finalists.

"I played unbelievable today, probably one of my best matches this year," Alcaraz said, repeating his sentiments from after his second-round victory against Filip Krajinovic. "I'm pretty happy with the performance that I'm playing in this tournament. Yesterday was amazing as well.

"I'm training every day to be solid and at the same time to be aggressive," he added. "That is my game."

ATP WTA LIVE | Follow the Pepperstone ATP Race To Turin In Real Time

The top-seeded Alcaraz, who was five of 11 on his break chances, saved the only break point he faced in the contest late in the second set.

Khachanov, seeded seventh, was playing in his third straight ATP Tour quarter-final. He managed two service holds early in the second set but could not stop the Alcaraz attack as his opponent claimed the final five games of the match.

Alcaraz improved to 2-0 in the pair's ATP Head2Head series following a straight-sets win in the Roland Garros fourth round. 

By reaching the Hamburg final, Alcaraz would match his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero's best result at the event. He would also break into the Top 5 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time with one more victory, passing Novak Djokovic, and would reach No. 4 with the title.

"I will try to do my best in the semi-finals to be able to do the same result as Juan Carlos, and of course trying to fight into the final," he said. "Of course to beat Juan Carlos, to try to win this tournament means a lot. If I win this tournament, I will make jokes to him that I am better than him. It would be amazing."

He will face Alex Molcan in Saturday's semi-finals. The Slovakian led Borna Coric 7-6(7), 2-0 before the Croatian retired on Thursday evening. The 24-year-old Molcan is seeking his first ATP Tour title, having reached three finals including two this season (Marrakech, Lyon).

Playing in his first event since reaching the Wimbledon third round, Molcan defeated fourth seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(5) in the Hamburg second round. He is up 11 places to No. 37 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week, putting him on track for a new career-high, and would crack the Top 30 with the Hamburg title.

More stories like this in: