Spaniard beat Zverev in straight sets, faces Medvedev next in New York
The pressure of competing as defending champion at a Grand Slam for the first time has done little to throw Carlos Alcaraz off course this US Open.
The Spaniard eased to a straight-sets quarter-final victory against 12th seed Alexander Zverev on Wednesday night, a stark contrast to his five hour, 15-minute triumph against Jannik Sinner at the same stage at Flushing Meadows a year ago. Yet it is not just the manner of his win against Zverev that has the top seed feeling confident as he prepares to meet Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals.
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“I’m more mature now. I grew up a lot since last year,” said Alcaraz in his post-match press conference. “Last year I was facing my first semi-final of a Grand Slam. Now I’m facing my fourth one. I feel like I’m a totally different player.
“It doesn’t matter that last year I got my first Grand Slam, that I won my first semi-final and final of a Grand Slam. I feel like I’m more mature. I deal better with the pressure in those kinds of moments. I feel like I’m different, a different person and a different player.”
Alcaraz’s mental approach of treating the majors like he does any other tournament has helped him handle the hype this fortnight in New York. His form at Flushing Meadows, where he has dropped just one set en route to the last four, has been a continuation of a scintillating 2023 season for the 20-year-old, who is now the owner of a Tour-leading 58-6 record.
“I’m doing the same things,” said Alcaraz. “Before matches I’m doing the same things. Mentally it can change a little bit going into tournaments that are the best-of-five, but I try to do the same things.
“I’m doing well during the season. Why do I have to change it? I just do the same things.”
The Spaniard’s ability to stay clutch at key moments played a crucial role early in his win against Zverev. He saved two break points at 3-4 in the first set against the German before claiming a decisive break of his own in the next game to kick-start his march to victory.
“Obviously watching the level Sascha was playing in the first set, being able to win it, it was great for me, to give me more confidence,” said Alcaraz. “Probably he got down a little bit in the second set and I took my chances.
“So it was great. Coming to the third set, knowing that I’m up, playing a great level, for him it was really, really tough. Obviously, he was struggling a little bit physically in the third set, but it was great to be able to win in straight sets.”
Alcaraz now turns to his third Lexus ATP Head2Head clash of 2023 with Medvedev. He claimed dominant victories against the 2021 US Open champion at Indian Wells in March and Wimbledon in July, and the Spaniard will try to emulate his gameplan from those triumphs when he steps onto Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday.
“The last matches that I played against Daniil, I played a perfect tactical game,” said Alcaraz. “I did all the things that I had to do against him pretty well. I think my game suits pretty well against that type of opponent like Daniil.
“So I’m going to try to do the same things that I did, for example, in Indian Wells and in Wimbledon, and hopefully get the win and play the same level that I played in those matches.”
Originally published at ATP Tour
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