Europe 1 with AFP / Photo credit: David Ramos / GETTY IMAGES EUROPE / Getty Images via AFP 21:51 p.m., June 05, 2023Stefanos Tsitsipas challenges world No. 1 and man to knock down Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals of Roland Garros on Tuesday. The Greek has been waiting for "this clash" since the beginning of the tournament and hopes to bring down the 20-year-old Spanish prodigy.
'It pushes us all to become better': Stefanos Tsitsipas, world No. 5 and two-time Grand Slam finalist, is still looking for the key against world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz ahead of their Roland Garros quarter-final on Tuesday and sees every opportunity to challenge him as a source of progress. Asked to qualify his upcoming quarter-final against Alcaraz, "it's the clash we were all waiting for," said the 24-year-old Greek.
Objectively, the anticipated shock since the draw is rather in the potential semifinal between the young Spaniard and Novak Djokovic, the two main favorites of Roland-Garros in the absence of Rafael Nadal. However, the duel scheduled in the evening between Tsitsipas and "Carlitos" remains enticing. And, even led 4-0 (2-0 on ochre) in his face-to-face with the protégé of Juan Carlos Ferrero, there is no question of being discouraged for the finalist of the 2021 edition.
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"Carlos maintains a high intensity all the time. This is someone who is not going to offer you moments of inattention. He is hyper energetic, it shows on the court, in rallies, in the way he plays, describes Tsitsipas. And of course he has this smile, which helps him a lot as he says. Right now, it's one of the biggest challenges, one of the biggest hurdles to overcome." "It pushes us all to become better. That kind of rivalry is the hardest thing about our sport. But in a way, playing against him as often as possible maybe gives you more chances to beat him, that's what I'm looking for."
His last experience, in the final in Barcelona at the end of April, was inconclusive. Dominated 6-3, 6-4 in less than an hour and a half, Tsitsipas had preferred to joke about it. "Carlos, relax, my brother, relax. To love is to share," he told Alcaraz. It's that the bouncing kid from El Palmar (near Murcia) is the hurried type. Just over two and a half years have passed between his first match won on the ATP Tour, in February 2020, and his accession to the throne of world No. 1, last September, in the wake of his first Grand Slam title, at the US Open.
His 2023 season, even launched late in mid-February due to a muscle injury that deprived him of the Australian Open, is already rich, before Roland-Garros, four trophies in seven tournaments played. "I've never had the opportunity to be more aggressive," said his most recent victim, the talented Italian Lorenzo Musetti (18th), another face called to embody the new generation of world tennis, extinguished 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 in the knockout rounds. I was too hasty, too confused, (...) not lucid. But of course there's someone on the other side of the net."
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"He served really well, and we know that he is one of the players who moves best on the circuit, that he likes to cushion and turn around his backhand, with his aggressive and heavy forehand. "I think he showed today (Sunday) that he can surely win the tournament. He is a complete player, physically, mentally, and +tennistically+. Right now, it's really hard to beat him, especially on clay." "I'm a big fan," said Canadian Denis Shapovalov, who was dominated by Alcaraz in the third round. "He's super humble with what he accomplished so young. You can see how much he enjoys being on the court, and what happens to him. It's not easy to be No. 1 so young, with all the expectations around him. I really admire him."
With 24 matches won in 26 played on ochre in 2023, and three titles, in Buenos Aires, Barcelona, and especially Madrid, plus a final in Rio, Alcaraz is sure of his strength. "I feel very good physically, it's very important in Grand Slams. I'm mentally fresh. And 'tennis', I impose a fairly high pace," he sums up.
"I know that if my opponents want to beat me, they have to have a very, very high mental, tennis and physical demand, which is very difficult to maintain," Alcaraz said. "I always say that the very good guys, Djokovic, Rafa (Nadal), Federer, who have dominated in Grand Slams for so long, it's because they have the ability to maintain this triple requirement for a very long time, "in that sense, I try to be like them."