Top seed Carlos Alcaraz of Spain, last week the champion in Buenos Aires, beat Dusan Lajovic of Serbia 6-4 7-6 in the quarterfinals at the Rio Open on Friday. The match lasted for around two hours with the 19-year-old Spaniard more than once having to come from behind to get the better of the Serbian. His reward for the victory is a semifinal clash with Chile’s Nicolas Jarry on Saturday. But how did Alcaraz secure the win?
The rallies typically ended quickly in the match:
Despite the match being played on clay, most of the rallies ended relatively fast with both players happy to pull the trigger early. But it was Alcaraz who proved to be the better equipped to step in and dictate. He did a lot of damage with his inside-out forehand and also looked to target Lajovic’s serve. The Serbian, who has plenty of clay-court pedigree actually struck first, breaking Alcaraz for a 3-2 lead before consolidating that break.
But Alcaraz hit back quickly, winning four games on the bounce to secure a one-set lead. Crucially, he was able to rely on his serve to win free points, and won a commendable 88% of the points behind his first serve. Lajovic managed to win a comparatively meagre 50% of the points behind his first delivery. Alcaraz’s forehand also made a difference, with the Spaniard striking seven winners with that shot.
Carlos Alcaraz played his returns and drop shots really well:
As the match progressed, Alcaraz started playing the drop shot more frequently to bring Lajovic forward to the net, with the Serbian not particularly comfortable in the forecourt. Alcaraz also hit some excellent return winners, once again punishing Lajovic’s indifferent serve. But Lajovic was holding his own, with his own groundstrokes having plenty of venom in them, and it was again Lajovic who broke first.
But this time Lajovic was not able to consolidate the break with Alcaraz immediately getting back on terms. Lajovic then had a golden opportunity to level the match, breaking Alcaraz in the 11th game of the set to give himself the chance to serve it out. But he couldn’t take it, with Alcaraz breaking back immediately once again. That seemed to break the back of Lajovic’s challenge with the Serb failing to win a single point in the ensuing tiebreak.
Main photo credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports