Carlos Alcaraz b  Alex de Minaur 6-7 (4) 7-6 (4) 6-4
The Pista Rafa Nadal is the stage for the first match between Alcaraz and de Minaurcertainly not a red specialist, who is now joining his first ATP semi-final on this surface. Historic moment for the boy from Murcia who in the space of a year has really made great strides: it seems incredible to think that just 12 months ago the boy was number 119 in the world, while on Monday he will make his entry into the top ten. The boy will be the youngest to enter the top ten since the time of a certain Rafa Nadal who just 17 years ago – on April 25, 2005, after winning the Barcelona tournament – was among the big names in the world. Truly it is the case to say courses and recourses of history.
THE MATCH – It starts immediately with hard, struggled exchanges, with each trying to find the error of the other if he does not find the winner, especially de Minaur, while Alcaraz immediately makes his usual and muffled notes sing.. Yet, the first break point is for the Australian in the second game, after several 1-1 occasions for the Spaniard, who punctually cancels it with an “almost” winner, taking the usual calculated risk. And in the third game, when the first drops begin to arrive, the opportunity is for the number 11 in the world (10 from Monday), who enters the exchange sought by De Minaur, who with skill brings Alcaraz the first to go over the top with the forehand, and gets away with an excellent cross-country rhythm and no longer risking. In the end, the rain goes to win, for the umpteenth time, which blocks the game at 2-2.
It starts again on a sunny Sunday for what will be the first of two scheduled matches for one of the two. Start packed by both who find themselves forced to face and cancel a break point that could have immediately changed the inertia of the challenge. De Minaur is the emblem of the ability to defend himself and of running despite not being a landlord, not skimping when possible to attack with the forehand. Alcaraz for his part is lethal with the forehand but commits many backhand errors, mainly of measure, and De Minaur, when he can, goes to solicit the weakest blow of the Spaniard.
The Spaniard also suffers in service, especially when he does not field the first one, with De Minaur always responding with his feet inside the field. And when the match seems to slide towards the inevitable tie-break, the Spaniard finds a way to complicate his life. Response close to the Australian’s line and yet another backhand error by the Spaniard for what becomes the first set ball for De Minaur. Alcaraz finds a serve by external routes that allows him to close easily with a smash on the rebound. The script repeats a few seconds later with another answer on the line which means set point number 2 for De Minaur. Another first outside removes the chestnuts from the fire in Alcaraz who with difficulty manages to reach the tie-break.
Alcaraz, however, still suffers from the dross of the previous game and continues to make mistakes with the backhand which becomes a heavy negative factor. De Minaur is easily hoisted on 5-2 before jammed on the most beautiful. Two bad second courses that lead to two unusual mistakes by the Australian that put Alcaraz back in the running. The Spaniard has to complain about the management of the point that leads to the set point with a hurried forehand that goes off the net, unleashing the Spaniard’s nervousness. De Minaur closed the tie-break of a set 7-4 in which the percentages on the second set made the difference (71% of points won for the Australian, only 48% for the Spaniard).
Second set with an Alcaraz returning more to the charge while De Minaur finds fewer firsts and commits many more mistakes, not always caused by the Spaniard’s game. The Spaniard always manages to get to the break point but does not materialize. In the sixth game there are even three consecutive ones for Alcaraz. De Minaur, however, continues to cancel break points, reaching 7, finding the help of the service in times of need.
After so many missed opportunities, a restless Alcaraz makes three mistakes that give De Minaur a very good chance to take advantage of the break point. Fate helps the Spaniard with two tapes that knock out the Austalian. Alcaraz misses even before a double fault and then a long forehand give the unexpected break to De Minaur, who has the merit of having responded profoundly by putting the Spaniard out of the service in difficulty.
At the time of trying to close it De Minaur makes three consecutive mistakes and with a winning damping comes the immediate counterbreak with Alcaraz who calls to him the public present in Barcelona. The intensity of the match is very high as well as the tension, Alcaraz does, especially with the short ball, and undoes. De Minaur covered the field with unprecedented speed and on the third opportunity took home a game that lasted 18 points.
Moment of difficulty and nervousness of the Spaniard who explodes when Alcaraz disputes a ball on the line called in by FoxTenn, going in vain to protest with Bernardes that nothing can do on the call of technology. De Minaur, however, continues to freeze on the most beautiful, the Australian not cynical and Alcaraz out of nowhere cancels the first with a great forehand. Mistake that remains in the mind of the Australian who snaps mistakes after mistakes for yet another counterbreak.
Tie-break that begins with a mini-break De Minaur, but Alcaraz benefits from the crowd’s thrust to counter a De Minaur who seems to have run out of energy and closes 7-4. Crazy set in which the tennis player from Murcia in the end makes and undoes all the time, beyond any logic; the spasmodic search for lines, from net descents and short balls is beyond human understanding (tennis); but anyway, the boy is so explosive that he manages to add 21 unforced errors and 21 winners, stuff that is rarely seen on clay.
Third set that begins with De minaur serving. The public is now on fire as well as the player from Murcia who now wants to tighten his grip and bring the match to his side. The first game is a 25-point odyssey in which De Minaur has even 7 opportunities to take home the game but fails to realize any of these; Carlos instead on the fourth occasion brings down the stadium and collects the break. De Minaur, however, is not there to act as a sacrificial lamb and in the following game the Australian manages to break the ball twice but without realizing. Now, however, De Minaur pays for the wasted opportunities, in particular the two match points of the twelfth game of the second set, and begins to make mistakes a bit too much.
With a Carlos who continues to make good and bad weather it is essential for Alex to stay in the exchange and oblige the Spaniard to always take an extra risk.. Even if now the inertia is in favor of the Spaniard, the margin of error that Alcaraz allows himself is always tremendously small; also given the precedents in this tournament it can never be ruled out that the boy can go over the top again. And in fact in the sixth game Carlos exaggerates again and this time the Australian realizes the opportunities and pierces with a straight length a not perfect attack of the Spaniard. In short, continuous twists and turns with the Spaniard who finds the strength to break the Australian again with yet another winning short ball, even in extension and taking advantage of a mistake in acceleration by De Minaur.
Alacaraz thus goes to serve for the match and without denying himself he does not change strategy in the slightest; it goes as it goes Carlos this game plays it in attack and on the first occasion closes in 3:39 minutes for 6-4 on the third. It will therefore be an all-Spanish final with Carreno, who will start at 17.30. Below is a brief post-match statement from the Spaniard: “It will be difficult to play against Pablo, a great friend, but there are no friends on the pitch and we will play it all the way; now is not the time to get tired but to think about recovering and giving everything“.
Chronicle of Giuseppe Di Paola with the collaboration of Federico Bertelli