Teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz proved he’s the real deal at Roland Garros, as the world lost its mind over his unique skill-set.
Teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz saved a match point and came back from 3-0 down in the final set to defeat Spanish compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas and make the French Open third round on Thursday (AEST).
The 19-year-old sixth seed, widely tipped to break the Grand Slam stranglehold of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, triumphed 6-1, 6-7 (7/9), 5-7, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 in a four-hour, 34-minute epic.
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Alcaraz, bidding to become only the eighth teenager to win a Grand Slam men’s title, hit a matching 74 winners and 74 unforced errors on Court Simonne-Mathieu.
The 34-year-old Ramos-Vinolas, ranked 44 and who made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros in 2017, saved 23 of 31 break points before the flamboyant Alcaraz called on his deepest reserves and spectacular shot-making ability to win.
“I feel tired,” said Alcaraz. “It was a great battle, a great match and we fought until the last point.”
I feel like I’m playing at home. It wouldn’t be possible if the fans didn’t support me.”
The tennis world was captivated by the incredible battle involving the veteran and a rising star of the sport. Commentator Jose Morgado said it was “unreal”.
“Carlos Alcaraz is really something else,” he tweeted. “Best match of the tournament.”
Tennis writer Erik Gudris called Alcaraz’s ability to retrieve what looked like certain winners “unreal and relentless” while Christopher Clarey of the New York Times wrote: “This match has been tremendous, sometimes ugly, sometimes pretty, but tremendous.”
Alcaraz’s astonishing court coverage and desire to stay in points even when they looked lost was best illustrated in the fifth set as he fought desperately to keep the match alive.
“You cannot make this up. Ridiculous, absolutely ridiculous,” tennis reporter Gaspar Ribeiro Lanca tweeted of the moment below.
Alcaraz saved a match point in the 10th game of the fourth set and was soon 3-0 down in the decider.
He pocketed the next four games only for the valiant Ramos-Vinolas to level at 4-4.
However, the 15-year age difference, combined with Alcaraz’s never-say-die scrambling, allowed the teenager to break again for 5-4.
Cramping, Ramos-Vinolas was soon three match points down and Alcaraz claimed victory with his 10th ace.
He goes on to face Sebastian Korda for a place in the last 16.