C. Alcaraz b. [WC] A. Murray 6-3 6-4
Another British for the young Spaniard, who after getting rid of the current number 2 Daniel Evans, is now playing, even if it is strange to say, with Great Britain 3, above Sir Andy Murray. For the Spaniard it is a question of avenging the defeat he suffered at Indian Wells a couple of weeks ago, at the hands of the Scotsman. Alcaraz starts as the favorite, but never assumes Murray, who is still unbeaten here in Vienna (winner in 2014 and 2016) and who surprised Hurcacz’s scalp on Monday.
An exhausting match, which in the early stages of the first set was a real battle with Alcaraz given as favorite, both in terms of ranking and for greater freshness; let’s just give some numbers to give the dimension of intensity we have witnessed in the first 5-five games, an average of 8 minutes per game, with the two going overall 13 times to the advantages. A sensational tug-of-war that sees him prevail in the end Spaniard who ends up spinning off and closing the first set 6-3 with a break advantage.
Second set in which Murray manages to lift the slope and lodge in the wake of the young Spaniard, who then produces the maximum effort with ringworm solutions (such as the ceiling-pile lob of the stadium that remains in the field) and the net attack to follow the answer on the second of the Spanish that lead him to even win a zero for the 2-1 Great Britain break.
The Murciano, however, does not fit and as in a bullfight charged with his head down with sublime solutions (such as the forehand fanning on the fly that pinches the line) and unfortunate (like the very comfortable bounce smash that shoots out). Here, however, the wise Scottish bullfighter brings out the best of his polite hand with a long lob and a delicious demi-volée backhand dampened on a poisonous passer-by of the Spaniard (by the way, the boy in addition to beating also demonstrates a good sagacity, confirming what he saw on Monday with Evans; when he is in difficulty the boy is able to propose complicated passers-by, which end up on the strings of his own opponent).
The battle goes on in the set as well, with Murray continuing to answer the questions Alcaraz presents to him. It is also impressive from the top of the media stand to see how the ball of the Iberian travels, even if obviously it would go from the sidelines, as in the view. And with these broadsides Murray plays defense as best he can, and here we see the fact that in recent weeks he is finding the match rhythm: it will certainly not be the de luxe version of 2016, but at least the Scotsman feels the exchanges and moves in a more than adequate way. Each Murray game is a fight with breakpoints and a lot of shoveling the advantages, which somehow manages to save up in the eighth game, where he ends up collapsing even mentally (see in particular a bloody mistake by the Scotsman leaving the service and the shortage of first balls in the game). Alcaraz thus takes command of operations and at the stroke of two hours he moves to 5-4. The Spaniard is all on the attack even in Murray’s next service game (a sensational attacking forehand on a very poisonous ball by Andy) and to follow a straight running winning full-arm after a 24-stroke exchange, which gives him match points and shortly after the match, with yet another aggressive response that Murray can’t handle.
In short, a beautiful and extremely hard-fought match, in which, however, it should be noted as for the second time Alcaraz concedes a lot on his service: on Monday with Evans 7 break points were granted; today in the first set alone 9 were awarded to Murray (10 in total at the end of the game). A figure that is explained by the lack of incisiveness these days with the first serve by the Spaniard (today even 60% success on the second, which is an excellent figure, and 59% on the first, given the latter that in these conditions gambling is usually largely deficient …); it is clear that if the boy manages to improve his serve (you remember for example a certain Majorcan how he has improved his serve over the years) then there will be serious trouble for the rest of the circuit.
In terms of shot selection, the match was almost mirror-like, with Alcaraz showing his willingness to play the game on the backhand diagonal for large stretches.
The Scotsman tried to maneuver wisely, thus trying to avoid getting entangled in too long dribbles that often rewarded his opponent, but it was not enough, against the tactical aggression and physical exuberance of his opponent.
In the post-match interview, the Spaniard confirmed that he had played hard trying not to leave Murray and play to be as aggressive as possible. The difference with Indian Wells is that this time it was not the first time and the boy knew what to expect (there was also a speech of emotion probably, since in Spanish he said that he had seen him a million de veces, but only on TV). Next match with Berrettini – a player that the Spaniard obviously respects very, very different in style from Murray. Curiously, but not so much given the game against the Spaniard, the boy said he had no problems with the rapid, and indeed he liked them, as is happening this week.
To follow then came Murray in the press room (sorry, in the virtual room on zoom), in which si said sorry i missed the second set, where the level had dropped a bit compared to the spectacular start of the first. In any case, we have seen a lot of good tennis. “It was definitely a physical match, – explained the former n.1 – and in the arena it was really hot, usually indoors it’s not like that; but when you play like the ones you played in the hot first set it becomes a factor as you trade and it gets complicated. Carlos is a great counter and his serve is not definitive, so the exchanges are very long and he has made very few free shots, especially considering the power of his shots; I could and should have done better, as I had opportunities“.
“As for the rest of the season – Murray continued – definitely Stockholm, and in Paris Bercy is likely to receive a wild card. Davis is not something that I take into account, at the moment I would say no, because I would like a proper off season. My tennis is improving, I think I need 3-4 weeks to calmly fix my game. And playing in the Davis Cup I couldn’t do it. Finally, I believe that in a few months I will be able to put together some good results and I will be able to reach the standings. I think if I can be a little more consistent and cynical I will start to win and have some good streaks. The draws then count, and here the scoreboard was very hard. Finally, compared to the future it’s something I’m not thinking a lot about, I threw away Hurcacz who made seeds at Wimbledon, Alcaraz did well at the US Open, I think I can repeat some good performances by looking at those matches. This is how I can play better“.
Finally, returning to Alcaraz: “I think he could have the potential he could become a Grand Slam champion, but I don’t know him, I don’t work on him every day: his team and his coach who see him every day can respond better than me, even if for an eighteen year old he already has a great base, with few holes“.