There are bad days, in tennis, in sport, in life. Everyone deserves the privilege of having a bad day, of chaining failures, of losing grace. On a court, Carlos Alcaraz, 20 years old, two Grand Slams and a handful of weeks at number one in the world ranking, deserves it more than anyone. The problem is that his defeat on Wednesday against Grigor Dimitrov (5-7, 6-2 and 6-4) in the second round of the Shanghai Masters 1000 was not the result of a fateful time, of a few mistakes, but the confirmation of a problem: he is tired.

Despite his physique, in the Asian tour he has seen some signs of an exhaustion that can cost him the end of the season. Ahead, until holidays, still, the ATP 250 in Basel, the Masters 1000 in Paris-Bercy and the ATP Finals in Turin. Behind, too much.

This season he had only missed the quarterfinals once before, at the Masters 1000 in Rome, where he fell by surprise in the third round to Fabian Marozsan -then yes, a bad day-; Hence the tute. Since January, 72 matches, 63 won and nine lost, and still in October. Against Dimitrov there were aspects of Alcaraz's tennis that underlined his fatigue, such as his difficulty connecting first serves or his problems to climb the net, but more spoke his gestures.

As happened in the semifinals of the ATP 500 in Beijing against Jannik Sinner, Alcaraz's serenity faded at a certain point and in several lost points he released anger against himself. There were laments towards his team, weighed the imminence of defeat.

And that in the first set he got what he was looking for. Before the match, Alcaraz warned that he could not allow the party to "face" Dimitrov and did not stand at all. Although the doubts were already flying over him, the Spaniard multiplied his intensity when necessary, accelerated his legs, converted a 5-3 against in a 7-5 in favor, and stood before a new victory.

With the first set against, Dimitrov, at 32 years old, in the twilight of a trajectory marked by injuries and irregularity, could give up. But he didn't. In the second and third sets, the Bulgarian remembered that 'Baby Federer' who won the 2017 Masters Cup, an exquisite forehand, that one-handed backhand, and punished Alcaraz whenever he could.

  • Articles Javier Sánchez
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