Top seed and world #1 Carlos Alcaraz beat Jack Draper of the Great Britain 3-6 6-2 7-5 in a pulsating first-round encounter at the ATP Swiss Indoors on Monday after a match lasting almost three hours. The 19-year-old Alcaraz, who is gunning for his sixth title of the year, was given a stern test by his fellow young gun, but hung tough to win it in the third. But what were the keys to the match?
1. Draper’s depth impeccable early on:
Key to Draper’s early success was his excellent depth off the ground in their baseline exchanges. Alcaraz has some of the most powerful and accurate groundstrokes in the men’s game, with his forehand particularly dangerous, making it vital for Draper to ensure he did not give Alcaraz any short balls to punish. He succeeded in that for the most part and the result was that Alcaraz often found it difficult to hit outright winners in the first set. Draper broke Alcaraz in the third game of the first set and then held his serve to go 3-1 up. He then again broke the Spaniard to love in the ninth game to seal the set.
2. Alcaraz’s court coverage digs him out of trouble:
Alcaraz is a destructive player when given time on the ball. But much like his compatriot Rafael Nadal, he can also hustle with the best of them. He demonstrated that excellent court coverage throughout the second set. Draper attempted to use the drop shot to keep Alcaraz off-balance, but the Spaniard managed to chase most of them down thanks to his great foot speed.
In addition to that, Alcaraz also found the mark with some excellent passing shots when the Briton tried to press his advantage by coming to the net. The Spaniard won the first four games of the second set, breaking Draper, to take a commanding lead. The Brit managed to win his next two service games, but it was too little too late with Alcaraz largely untroubled on serve.
3. Alcaraz’s mental resolve to the fore again:
Alcaraz has the welcome habit of winning the majority of close matches he plays and his mental resilience once again came to the fore against Draper. He made a great start to the decider, breaking Draper in the fifth game and consolidating that break to take a 4-2 lead. But Draper, having a fine season in his own right, hit straight back. He won three games on the bounce to take a 5-4 lead.
Alcaraz, however, summoned one last effort. He broke Draper again in the 11th game to move ahead 6-5 and then saved a couple of break points in his subsequent service game before winning the match. The Spaniard was again brilliant during the key moments and somehow managed to keep his nose in front. Draper won 48% of the points on his second serve against Alcaraz’s 43%. But in the end, the Spaniard’s ability to raise his game during crucial moments paved the way for another victory.
Embed from Getty Images