Alexander Zverev’s battle against Carlos Alcaraz occurred on Tuesday afternoon after a scheduling debate highlighted that the Spaniard had already played two night sessions in a row.
Alcaraz has been on a much-celebrated run this season, winning prominent Masters 1000 titles, like Miami and Madrid.
Alcaraz vs Zverev, 2022 Madrid Masters, Final
In the Madrid final, Zverev succumbed to Alcaraz in straight sets, faulting four times in a row from deuce in the last game, handing his opponent victory.
But during the French Open quarter-finals, Zverev pulled off a complete reversal of fortune, winning 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6. Here, the German was boosted, not hindered by his serve, reaching seven aces to Alcaraz’s 2, one used to seal the second set.
Zverev’s high toss and precision this time meant a superior first-serve percentage of 73% to Alcaraz’s 61%. He also beat his opponent on win % on first serves, with 74% to 72%, and on second serves, 67% to 54%.
For weeks, the rest of the field had been trying to figure out the key to defeating Alcaraz. He pulled off powerful, low-percentage shots with great accuracy and relative consistency – particularly with his forehand down-the-line.
When it was the opponent’s chance to attack, Alcaraz’s speed meant he could extend the rally, improving his chances of winning the point during his return games.
Zverev vs Alcaraz, 2022 French Open, Fourth-Round
However, against Zverev, Alcaraz didn’t appear as mentally confident compared to previous matches. His groundstrokes were less powerful, meaning Zverev could track down attempts at winners fired into corners and construct his points.
Alcaraz appeared a little slower on his feet and not as quick to anticipate Zverev’s shot selection and placement.
When Zverev hit a dop-shot of his own, Alcaraz found it challenging to reach, while his drop-shots lacked the spin in earlier rounds and sat up for Zverev to dispatch with ease. Alcaraz did find superb shorter angles on his forehand and backhand but uncharacteristically made 34 unforced errors to Zverev’s 56.
In the baseline exchanges, it was Zverev who outlasted. His backhand was steady and reliable, able to neutralise Alcaraz’s forehand’s attacking power, which was a crucial part of the Spaniard’s strategy of weakening his opponent on their backhand side, waiting for a shorter ball and winning the point in the next stroke.
By contrast, Zverev’s forehand retained its depth. It is a very high, looping topspin, which prevented Alcaraz from flattening out the ball, who hit a weaker topspin response.
Zverev won the first two sets, 6-4, 6-4, but found himself in a lengthier match than planned, with Alcaraz winning the third for 4-6.
Alcaraz gifted Zverev a chance to close out the match in the fourth set by double-faulting on break point at 4-all. Zverev’s effort to serve for the match failed, and Alcaraz levelled the score to 6-all, triggering a tiebreak.
At 4-5 in the tiebreak, Zverev saved set point after a half-volley pickup from Alcaraz had too much height, allowing the German to come forward and smash an inside-out backhand into his opponent’s forehand corner.
At 5-all, Alcaraz shot a backhand winner down the line but wildly fired another backhand into the net during the next point, levelling the score again to 6-all.
Zverev’s Reflex Volley Sets Up Match Point
Zverev reached another match-point with a lightning reflex volley in the forecourt after Alcaraz had deployed the drop-shot.
Eventually, a strong serve and volley play gave Zverev another match-point at 8-7 before hitting a deep backhand winner off the return of serve, sealing the match.
Will Zverev’s consistency and serving be enough to defeat his half of the draw? And is this his year to finally win a grand slam? Leave your comments below.