Alcaraz saves a match point and advances to the third round

The Spanish Carlos Alcaraz came through the second round of Roland Garros with difficulties against his compatriot Albert Ramos, who had a match point and ended up defeated 6-1, 6-7(7), 5-7, 7-6(2 ) and 6-4, in 4 hours and 34 minutes.

In a vibrant match, the number 6 seed was forced to push himself hard and come from behind to move forward in a tournament where he is one of the main candidates for the final victory.

"Thanks to the public, I felt at home"cried Alcaraz, who was breathing fast like someone who has been saved from a major scare.

Nothing presaged the scenario that occurred when the match began and in less than half an hour Alcaraz had scored the first set. But surely, when you look back many years from now to review his career, you will remember this quote as one of those that forged his character.

Because after that partial, Alcaraz was bogged down in the trap that Ramos set for him, which placed him in front of a maze.

The number 44 in the ranking, 34, gave a strategic lesson with which he tamed the power of the 6 in the world, 19, who attracts all the media spotlights on his back, to the point of considering him the main rival of Serbian Novak Djokovic and the Spaniard Rafael Nadal, the great dominators of recent years.

The tennis player who has marked the start of the season could not find the way out due to his precocity and his power, which have led him to sign up for two Masters 1,000, Miami and Madrid, in addition to the tournaments in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.

Alcaraz, who has shown that he is used to rubbing shoulders with the greats, who has defeated Djokovic and Nadal, got entangled with a tennis player who has his best deeds in the past.

The Murcian was 13 years old when Ramos reached the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, his greatest feat along with the final he played in Monte Carlo the following year, one of the seven he has played, six of them on clay.

All the experience gained was put at the service of victory on a hostile track, the Simone Mathieu, the complex’s third most important, who chanted "Charles, Charles!" in a sign of respect for his new hero, fresh air on a stagnant circuit.

The experience of Ramos, a tennis player who makes little noise, served to isolate himself from these setbacks and continue along the marked path, make his rival run, prevent him from loading his gunpowder arm, take him to the limit to push him to failure.

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Unforced errors piled up as Alcaraz’s patience seemed to run out. The gifted hidden in a 19-year-old body let the teenager appear and fear appeared in his eyes and his gestures of desperation.

This is how the second set escaped, a work of art of clay tennis by Ramos, and the lesson lasted the entire first part of the third, only stopped by punctual blows of genius from Alcaraz, who could not help but let the partial escape.

The duel was evened out somewhat in the fourth, when fatigue made Ramos’s aim out of tune, but the astute Catalan surprised in the ninth, snatching his rival’s serve and putting himself in a position to close the match with his serve.

After overcoming a break ball, he had another match, which he did not know how to conclude, leaving Alcaraz alive who had the nerve to force the tiebreaker game in which he was much superior.

The match, which by then was already a coin toss, paralyzed the tournament. Everyone was aware of what was happening on that track where the champion of tomorrow was on the ropes against a veteran with little track record.

It was the fourth time that the young man from Murcia had played a five-set match and had won them all. Last year at Wimbledon he came back two sets against the Japanese Yasutaka Uchiyama and at the US Open he also put together five sets in the third round against the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and in the round of 16 against the German Peter Gojowczyk, against whom he had also lost the first two.

The fourth did not start with a good omen, 3-0 for Ramos and, again, the young promise against the ropes. But there the best version of him appeared, he recovered, the fear of his game disappeared, his arm was stretched and, although Ramos still resisted, he ended up closing the duel.

Alcaraz will be measured for a place in the round of 16, and thus improve on his performance from last year, against the winner of the duel between Frenchman Richard Gasquet and American Sebastian Korda.

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