Spanish talent Carlos Alcaraz does it again: win. With his victory in the quarter-finals, Alcaraz is the second youngest semi-finalist ever in Umag at 18 years old. The youngest ever is still his famous compatriot Rafaël Nadal, who was already in the semifinals of Umag at the age of seventeen.
After a somewhat difficult start, Alcaraz was able to strike mercilessly in his matches in Umag. In his first match against Frenchman Lucas Pouille, it took a full set before the Spaniard showed his true tennis skills. That first set went to Pouille 6-3, but then it was over for the Frenchman. Under the watchful eye of Juan Carlos Ferrero, who is of course no stranger to Umag – he won the tournament in 2010 – Alcaraz Pouille showed all corners of the court and poor Lucas had little to gain: 6-2, 6 -2. for the Spaniard. He repeated the same example of superior tennis against Slovakian Andrej Martin, only this time it didn’t take a whole set but only a few games before the Spanish talent dictated the match. Andrej Martin was still in the final in 2016 in Umag against Fabio Fognini (who Fognini won), but, despite the unconditional support of his fans and the enormous noise that his countrymen faithfully managed to produce, did not stand a chance against Alcaraz. The young Spaniard didn’t seem to mind the noise of the Slovaks and hammered the balls with great precision on or just in front of the lines. Combined with his phenomenal drop shots, his play was simply too good for Martin: 6-3, 6-1.
There are more similarities between Nadal and Alcaraz. Alcaraz also appears on the court in a sleeveless shirt and has a set of very well-developed arm muscles. And of course they are both very talented and Spaniards. Both are coached by a former Spanish top tennis player. Nadal by Carlos Moya and Alcaraz by former world No. 1 and Roland-Garros winner (2003) Juan Carlos Ferrero. But as far as we are concerned, the most striking similarity is the mental maturity at such a young age. The relentless will to win, coupled with the ability to control nerves and make the right decisions at the decisive moments, has reached a level with Nadal at a very young age that many ATP players never manage to reach. You see that same maturity with Carlos Alcaraz. For example, he narrowly won the first set in a tiebreak (7-3), but suffered a confrontational 6-2 defeat in the second set and it seemed that Filip Krajonovic with his 11 years more tennis experience and his almost 40 placing higher in the world rankings would finished the job.
But unlike many other youngsters who play against a routenier, Alcaraz does not hang his head, but is extra motivated to fight it even more fanatically. Krajonovic had no answer to the Spaniard’s superior play in the third set. The variation of Alcaraz’s game is top notch. Sometimes ‘simple as Federer’ hard serve in one corner and a hard flat blow in the other and then again a ball with a lot of spin or a drop shot followed by a perfect lob if necessary. Krajonovic’s class also forced the young Spaniard to look for the corners and the lines of the court, because an easy ball in the Serb’s strike zone is unceremoniously punished. But that rarely happened to the Spaniard in the third set, with his compelling play he managed to win the match with a resounding 6-1 win in the third set. In the semi-finals, the number 1 placed compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas awaits.