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NEW YORK, USA – Carlos Alcaraz moved into the third round of the US Open with a 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(4) win over Lloyd Harris on Thursday, August 31, in a match that also revealed a lack of sharpness which the Spaniard will need to rectify if he is to successfully defend his crown.
Some dazzling shot making from the world No. 1 had the crowd on its feet but behind the fun-filled evening were some worrying flaws as Alcaraz piled up 29 unforced errors and showed a lack of concentration at key moments.
Even while not at his best, Alcaraz could rely on raw talent and a vast repertoire of shots to see off the 177th ranked South African.
After the match Alcaraz focused on the positives, rating his effort as “great” but admitting to a letdown in the third set.
“I think I played great, a great match,” assessed the Spaniard. “But obviously in the third set he started to play better. I got down a little bit.
“I need extra energy in the third set.
“In the end, I think I played a pretty good match and will try to keep the same level.”
But the 20-year-old will need to improve with rival Novak Djokovic on the prowl for a 24th Grand Slam and seeking revenge for his Wimbledon loss to the Spaniard.
Under Arthur Ashe Stadium’s bright lights Alcaraz found himself under even greater scrutiny after an unconvincing build-up to the season’s final Grand Slam.
In two tune-up events his results – reaching the Canadian Open quarterfinals and losing to Djokovic in the Cincinnati final – were positive but the performances spotty with seven of eight matches needing three sets to get the job done.
Of the 23 sets played eight required tiebreaks.
There was little to learn from Alcaraz’s opening match on Tuesday against Dominic Koepfer, which was cut short when the German retired with an ankle injury.
Harris is recovering from wrist surgery and has seen his ranking drop but the big-hitting South African is a proven danger man, reaching the quarterfinals in 2021 and having a few top 10 wins on his resume, including one over Rafa Nadal.
The contest got off to a cautious start before Alcaraz began to settle into the match, taking control of the first set with a break to go up 3-2.
From that point on he dialed up the pressure and clinched the set with a second break.
Alcaraz continued to dominate in the second but lost focus in the third, committing 16 of his 29 unforced errors, as Harris threatened to take the contest to a fourth set before losing the tie-break 7-4.
There will be no room for such lapses in third round for Alcaraz with 26th seed Dan Evans waiting in the wings. – Rappler.com