Carlos Alcaraz hints at a long run at Wimbledon as Chardy says goodbye | Wimbledon 2023

During Carlos Alcaraz’s first grass game of the season against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech at the Queen’s Club, the Spaniard found he was distracted. Still not quite comfortable with his turbo movement on the slippery pitch, he was so focused on maintaining his balance that the rest of his game suffered. Alcaraz was pushed to the brink, barely surviving a third-set tiebreaker.

There is still so much room for Alcaraz to improve on the grass and growth takes time but, after nearly three weeks on the surface and counting this year, that discomfort is a long way off. Alcaraz started his first Wimbledon title run as the No. 1 seed with a comfortable victory, dismantling France’s Jérémy Chardy 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 under the roof of the No. 1 court.

“I’m really happy with the level at which I’m playing, with the performance today. I think I played a very good match today. It’s something I’m going to take in the next round,” said Alcaraz.

Like a true Gen Z athlete, Alcaraz immediately hopped on his phone after the win and, while checking all the social media posts he had missed, he learned that Roger Federer was in attendance on center court in as part of eight-time champion celebrations. career.

“I saw that Roger Federer was there. I was a bit jealous,” he said smiling. “Honestly, I want Roger Federer to watch one of my games obviously. I want to talk a little with him. For me [that] It would be amazing. I hope to see him more than once. »

While the 20-year-old continues to gain valuable experience early in his career, on the other side of the net, Chardy started his tournament knowing it was the end of it. Chardy had announced his intention to retire from singles after Wimbledon and the draw had given him one last chance on the big stage, albeit with an extremely slim chance of victory.

Roger Federer waves from the Royal Box.
Roger Federer waves from the Royal Box. Photograph: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

Chardy, a top 100 player for most of his career, returned to competition this year after knee surgery. Although the 36-year-old won his first round match at the Australian Open in January, he hasn’t won a single set in his four matches since and the Frenchman was forced to withdraw from his last match at Roland Garros due to other knee problems. Now ranked No. 542 and facing the rising world No. 1 player, the chasm between them immediately cleared.

In the first set, Chardy was painful to watch. As he sprayed errors on the floor, his serve toss was atrocious, leading to a series of double faults as he continued to throw the ball too far behind him. Shortly after serving three successive double faults, a terrible first serve bounced in front of the net, causing Chardy’s wife Susan to jump to her feet and energize the crowd. Seconds later, Chardy double faulted again. When he finally won his first match, he beamed.

Against his weakened opponent, Alcaraz behaved as expected. It moved perfectly, sweeping side to side across the baseline, changing direction with ease and swooping back to points that seemed lost. He took the ball earlier than usual, unloading on forehands that drew gasps from his home crowd, and his trademark drop shots were effective as always on the low-bounce grass.

Still, as Alcaraz gain more experience, it would be wise to use these matches against overmatched opponents as an opportunity to throw a few more serve and volley attempts or a few more backhand slices than usual. and to work on his long-term grass game.

Midway through the third set, Alcaraz’s concentration seemed to briefly weaken as Chardy found some rhythm. After a long serve game at 2-3 on Alcaraz’s serve, presented with a slow second serve on the verge of breaking, Chardy produced a vintage inside-out forehand return for the breaking serve. The danger of a potential fourth set spurred Alcaraz into action. He immediately collected the break and won five of the last six games by sealing his victory.

Alcaraz will next face another Frenchman, either Alexandre Müller or a rematch with Rinderknech, as he continues to grow in these early days of his grass-court career. Müller led Rinderknech by one set before play was suspended.

For Chardy, that’s it. It all started for him on these courts as Wimbledon junior champion in 2005 and he had an underrated career. He reached the fourth round of every Grand Slam tournament and a career-high No. 25.

With his heavy and unorthodox forehand, Chardy has always been able to pull off a few big upsets every year, recording victories over good friend Federer and Andy Murray in his career. At some point, however, time catches up with everyone.

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