Tsitsipas survives scare, faces Alcaraz in quarters

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Stefanos Tsitsipas lost the opening set but went on to defeat Matteo Arnaldi 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2, 6-2 in the fourth round of the French Open on Sunday.

Tsitsipas, the No. 9 seed, kept his bid to win his first Grand Slam title alive but will face another challenge in the quarterfinals against No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz, who thrashed No. 21 Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3, 6-1.

“It was one of the craziest comebacks I’ve had. The momentum seemed to be going his way the entire match,” Tsitsipas said. “It was very frustrating on my end, because I felt like I was trying my best, trying to make him move. Nothing really seemed like it was working.”

A finalist at Roland Garros in 2021, Tsitsipas was put to the test early on by Arnaldi, who ousted No. 6 Andrey Rublev in the previous round. Arnaldi had to save three break points in the opening game but made the decisive break to lead 3-1 and comfortably saw out the first set, as Tsitsipas was unable to handle the Italian player’s energy.

Tsitsipas looked to be in even more trouble in the second set when Arnaldi broke to lead 3-2. But Arnaldi then failed to take advantage when serving for the set at 5-4 up. Tsitsipas broke and came out on top in the tiebreak to level the match.

“I think experience was the reason I managed to come back today. Even at 5-3 in the second set I felt like I can come back,” Tsitsipas said. “I felt like there was power within me to turn this match around, and I think that game at 5-4 when I broke him was the biggest pleasure I’ve experienced in tennis in a long time because I felt there is a chance.”

Tsitsipas took his renewed confidence into the third set and broke in the first game. Arnaldi began to struggle and Tsitsipas broke once more, and two further breaks in the fourth set put an end to the upset bid.

“He’s one of the biggest fighters I have played in tennis, and he deserves a lot of credit because he was pushing me to the limits and one of the strongest opponents I have had on the clay court season so far,” Tsitsipas said. “I really think we are going to see a lot of things from him in the future because there are players at certain moments that are a little more fragile, but he seemed very composed and very strong in those crucial moments.”

Tsitsipas will face Alcaraz in a repeat of last year’s quarterfinal. Alcaraz, 21, has won all five of their previous meetings.

“He said in the past that he likes playing against me, so I hope he gets to like it a little bit less the next time,” Tsitsipas said with a smile.

After an exchange of breaks early in the contest, Alcaraz wasted several chances to punish Auger-Aliassime’s serve, but he finally got his reward with a sliding volley for a 5-3 lead and held his nerve to win the next game.

Last year’s semifinalist showcased his skills at the net again to save a break point at 1-2 in the second set and got back level after a nine-minute game before unleashing a huge backhand down the line to grab the lead in the next game.

Auger-Aliassime, 23, came out fighting following treatment for an apparent left leg injury, but Alcaraz recovered from 0-40 down to extend his lead, delighting fans with a flicked single-handed backhand winner from deep en route to a two-set advantage.

Alcaraz, with a recent arm injury, raced to a 5-0 lead in the third set before closing out the match.

“I think I played a high level of tennis. Really focused. No ups and downs. I’m happy with everything. My serve, my shots, my movement on the court,” Alcaraz said. “I know Felix is a great player. He’s played great tennis. The head-to-head was 3-2 for him. I was looking forward to being equal to him. We both showed great tennis today.”

He said he was relishing his next match against Tsitsipas.

“I love these kinds of matches,” Alcaraz said. “I’ve seen a lot of matches lately from Stefanos. I know he’s playing great tennis and has a lot of confidence right now. I have the key against him. I’ll try to play the shots that get him in trouble. I’ll try to show my best.

“Hopefully the crowd enjoys [it] as much as I’m going to. Let’s see how it’s going to be.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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