ATP

Carlos Alcaraz beats Alex De Minaur at Queen’s to clinch first grass-court title

By Sports Desk June 25, 2023

Carlos Alcaraz secured his first grass-court title and top billing at Wimbledon with victory over Alex De Minaur in the final of the cinch Championships.

The 20-year-old Spaniard overtook Novak Djokovic as world number one, and confirmed he will be a major contender to take the Serbian’s crown at SW19 next month, with a commanding 6-4 6-4 win at Queen’s Club.

Alcaraz was playing only his third ever grass-court tournament, and his first outside of two underwhelming visits to Wimbledon.

In his first match he needed a third-set tie-break to get past French journeyman Arthur Rinderknech, but as the week wore on he grew in confidence on the surface and by Sunday looked to the manor born.

Alcaraz will now be top seed at Wimbledon and, on this evidence, has a genuine chance to emulate compatriot Rafael Nadal, who won at Queen’s in 2008 and went on to claim the big one three weeks later.

A break of serve in each set proved enough to overcome Australian number one De Minaur, who competed well but had no answer to the pace and power of the favourite.

For example when De Minaur, 24, created the match’s first break point, at 4-3 in the opener, Alcaraz simply rolled out a 137mph ace.

A high-quality first set swung the way of the top seed when De Minaur sent a backhand wide, and then a forehand long, to gift Alcaraz the break.

The youngster from Murcia wrapped up the 49-minute set with an ace before taking a medical time-out for treatment on his right thigh.

Whatever the issue was, it did not seem to bother Alcaraz too much as he forced another break point at 2-2 in the second – and De Minaur picked the worst possible time to throw in a first double fault.

Victory was confirmed when De Minaur’s return floated long and Alcaraz celebrated an 11th career title, and surely the first of many on the lawns of London.

Alcaraz said: “It means a lot to have my name on the trophy. It was special to play here where so many legends have won. To see my name surrounded by the great champions is amazing.

“I started the tournament not very well, especially my movement on the grass, but it’s been an amazing week.”

De Minaur had been hoping to match his British girlfriend Katie Boulter, who won a first career title in Nottingham last weekend, but he just came up short.

He said: “It’s been a great week for me. We were close but I wasn’t quite able to get it done. Too good from Carlos.”

Related items

  • Ruud doubles up to win Geneva Open Ruud doubles up to win Geneva Open

    Casper Ruud played twice on Saturday to win the Geneva Open, as he heads into Roland-Garros in fine form.

    With his semi-final against Flavio Cobolli having been postponed on Friday due to rain, Ruud returned to the court to seal a 1-6 6-1 7-6 (7-4) victory.

    The Norwegian was swiftly back in action in Switzerland, taking on Tomas Machac, who stunned Novak Djokovic on Friday, in the final.

    And the world number seven made light work of Mahac, winning 7-5 6-3 to become the first three-time champion at the Geneva Open, which he also won in 2021 and 2022.

    Data Debrief: Clay court specialist 

    Ruud has now claimed an 11th ATP event title on clay since the start of the 2020 season.

    He is the only player to win 10+ titles over that span on the surface, with Carlos Alcaraz (seven) the next best.

  • Nadal refuses to rule out Roland-Garros return Nadal refuses to rule out Roland-Garros return

    Rafael Nadal refused to rule out returning to Roland-Garros in the future, suggesting this French Open may not be his last after all.

    Nadal is widely anticipated to retire after the 2024 season, meaning this year's French Open would be his final appearance at a major he has won a record 14 times.

    The Spaniard has been handed a tough draw, with Nadal going up against Alexander Zverev in the first round.

    However, ahead of that tie, Nadal told reporters this may not in fact be his last showing at Roland-Garros.

    "If I have to tell you it's 100 per cent my last Roland Garros, sorry but I will not, because I cannot predict what's going on. I hope you understand," Nadal said.

    "I don't want to close 100 per cent the door, because it's a very simple thing.

    "First, I'm enjoying playing tennis, more or less healthy and playing without limitation.

    "Maybe in one month and a half I'll say 'OK, it's enough, I can't keep going'. But today I cannot guarantee that it's going to be the last one."

    Nadal has endured an injury-hit few seasons, but after playing in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome, feels he is getting closer to true fitness.

    "I'm feeling better. That's the truth," Nadal added, appearing more cheerful than he has in recent months.

    "Probably because we did things to try to feel better and we have been working without a stop to keep going with the process, to try to arrive here in a proper way."

    Nadal's tally of 112 matches won at the French Open is more than any other player has managed when it comes to match wins at a single major, seven ahead of Roger Federer's tally of 105 at Wimbledon.

    He expects a tough test against Zverev, though a potentially good omen is that he is the only player with over 10 wins against top-five opponents at Roland-Garros since the ATP Rankings were published in 1974, with 20 such victories.

    "It's a super-tough first round. Maybe I go there and I repeat the disaster of Rome. It's a possibility. I don't want to hide that," Nadal said.

    "But in my mind is something different, play much better and give myself a chance to be competitive. I didn't play against this level of opponent in a super-long time.

    "The rest of the things are just talking and talking, and in the end don't matter. It's about my feelings and my feelings are better. I want to enjoy that match."

  • Alcaraz 'a little bit scared' by ongoing arm problem ahead of French Open bow Alcaraz 'a little bit scared' by ongoing arm problem ahead of French Open bow

    Carlos Alcaraz says he is feeling better ahead of the French Open, but still has concerns about ongoing issues with his right forearm.

    The world number three reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros 12 months ago, losing out to eventual champion Novak Djokovic, but his preparations have been far from ideal this time around.

    Alcaraz has been dogged by an injury to his right forearm during the clay-court season, which forced him to withdraw from Barcelona and Rome, while his fitness struggles were evident in his Madrid Open quarter-final defeat by Andrey Rublev.

    The Spaniard admits he may have to adapt his game plan against J.J. Wolf in the opening round, but he was optimistic on media day in the French capital.

    "I'm feeling better," he smiled. "At least I can practise and hit balls without pain. That's a really good point for me. I came here to this tournament with not as many matches as I wanted, but I'm focusing on practice.

    "I'm not feeling any pain when I step on the court in practice, but I'm still thinking about it when I am hitting forehands. I'm a little bit scared about hitting every forehand 100 per cent, so I have to change it in my first match.

    "It's Roland Garros, and it's a really special tournament. Everybody wants to have good results here. This tournament is one of the main reasons that I'm practising every day. I want to be a better player, to be able to win these kinds of tournaments.

    "I'm practising well. I'm getting in rhythm. I'm getting confidence [from] the practice and that is really important, and I think I don't need too many matches to get to my 100 per cent level."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.