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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, June 4, 2023


No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz carved up No. 17 Lorenzo Musetti 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 rolling into his second straight Roland Garros quarterfinal.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Slide marks from physical rallies streaked the red clay like routes on a road map.

Master of misdirection Carlos Alcaraz dispensed scorched earth attack surging into his second straight Roland Garros quarterfinal.

More: Ball Kid Struck, Sparking Controversial RG Disqualification

In a highly-entertaining shotmakers' duel, Alcaraz subdued Lorenzo Musetti 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 on Court Philippe Chatrier taking one step closer toward a potential French Open semifinal showdown vs. Novak Djokovic.

World No. 1 Alcaraz raised his 2023 record to 34-3, including a 24-2 mark on clay. Neither of the two men who beat Alcaraz on clay this season are alive in the draw.

"I think this was my best match in the tournament so far," Alcaraz said. "Yeah, I think I played a good level."

US Open champion Alcaraz rides a 10-match Grand Slam winning streak into the quarterfinals against fifth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The 2021 finalist Tsitsipas swept 118th-ranked Sebastian Ofner 7-5, 6-3, 6-0. Alcaraz is 4-0 vs. Tsitsipas.

Earlier, a focused Djokovic dismantled Juan Pablo Varillas 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 to soar into a Roland Garros record 17th quarterfinal.

No. 3-seeded Djokovic has swept all 12 sets he's played in Paris this week.

While the top seed dropped one set in his second-round match, Alcaraz applied all-court acumen and soft touch to carve up the supreme problem solver—and settle a score in Paris today.

The 17th-seeded Musetti toppled Alcaraz 6-4, 6-7(6), 6-4 to capture his maiden ATP title in Hamburg last July. Ahead of this Roland Garros rematch, Alcaraz said "I really want to play that match."

The 21-year-old Musetti had not dropped a set and had held in 36 of 39 service games entering this fourth-round showdown. Alcaraz converted seven of 14 break-point chances today.

Explosiveness helped Alcaraz avenge that Hamburg loss. Hitting his forehand bigger and playing from proactive court positioning, Alcaraz more than doubled Musetti's winner total—42 to 17—and showed killer instinct at net winning 26 of 33 trips to net.

"I think we know that he is probably the best player in the world, and at the moment it's really tough to beat him, especially on clay," Musetti said of Alcaraz. "I think he grew a lot since last meeting we had in Hamburg.

"Today I think I didn't show my best tennis. But, of course, I don't want to take any advantage on that. Carlos deserved to win and deserved to pass to the quarterfinals, so I'm happy for him and for the level that he showed today."

In a spectacular start, Musetti slashed a one-handed backhand bolt—his second backhand winner of the game—to break the world No. 1 in the opening game. Musetti backed up the break at 15 for 2-0.

Tennis Express

Exploiting the wind to his advantage, Alcaraz dialed in his forehand and broke back in the fourth game to level after 20 minutes.

Firing his forehand with damaging intent, Alcaraz scorched a return inside the baseline rattling out framed response for a second break and his fourth straight game for 4-2.

Court Chatrier was a shotmakers paradise for periods as both men brought both force and finess including a fine touch duel at net late in the set. The Alcaraz serve and forehand were key components in the set.

Racing up quickly to a leaping Musetti drop shot, Alcaraz splattered a forehand winner to snatch the first set winning six of the final seven games.

Three games into the second set, speed and magic touch elevated showtime.

Alcaraz hit an eye-popping tweener lob that Musetti met with a smash. A point later, Alcaraz easily ran down a slick drop shot and flipped back an even better drop shot winner. Musetti held firm in that game and applied his front-court feel and an errant Alcaraz forehand to break back and level after four games.

Of course, it's not truly a break until you hold to confirm it. Musetti betrayed his own cause as he opened the court beautifully with a drive down the line, but badly bungled an easy jumping high volley wide with the entire court open to give back the break in the fifth game.

Defusing drama, Alcaraz flowed through a solid hold at 15 to go up a set and 4-2.

Committing a pair of double faults, things began to unravel for Musetti who faced a break point in the seventh game. His first serve was called out, but Alcaraz showed his sportsmanship, checking the mark and awarding Musetti a second serve. Though Musetti dodged that break point he scattered a forehand wide on the third break point as Alcaraz broke for 5-2.

Alcaraz slid his fourth ace down the T, sealing his fourth love hold of the match for a two set lead after one hour, 24 minutes.

An ability to accelerate through his forehand from seemingly the same backswing, makes Alcaraz's forehand both damaging and difficult to read. Patrolling the baseline, Alcaraz blew up a rally blasting a 90 mph forehand crosscourt for break point in the fifth game.

Flying forward, Alcaraz angled off a forehand volley winner breaking for a 3-2 third-set advantage.

Alcaraz closed in two hours, eight minutes giving fans a glimpse of a future riveting rivalry. Musetti believes this was a statement win for Alcaraz.

"With the serve today, was serving really good. We knew that it's probably one of the best movers on the tour," Musetti said. "I mean, as we know, he really likes to drop and to turn with his forehand and that it is really aggressive and heavy. I think today he showed that he probably can win this tournament."


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