Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas was devastated following his fifth-set tie-break loss against #NextGenATP star Carlos Alcaraz on Friday in the third round of the US Open. But he left no doubt how highly he thinks of the Spanish teenager.
“He can be a contender for Grand Slam titles,” Tsitsipas said. “He has the game to be there.”
On the last point of the match, Alcaraz pulverised a forehand and fell to the court in celebration. That rocket — his 61st winner of the match — was representative of the fearless attitude he displayed throughout the match inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“[His] ball speed was incredible. I’ve never seen someone hit the ball so hard. [It] took time to adjust. [It] took time to kind of develop my game around his game style,” Tsitsipas said. “It’s one of these matches and one of these feelings where you pick up [your level] at some point of the match, you feel like you’re in control, and it doesn’t really go your way at the end.
“It’s kind of bitter, especially after such an incredible fourth set by my side, dominating, being just so aggressive, not dwelling on the past. It was a great fourth set. I felt like he played the fifth one completely the way he played the first set basically, careless, going for every single shot. I have never seen someone play such a good fifth set, honestly.”
After Tsitsipas fell behind two-sets to-one, he rolled through the fourth set in 27 minutes. It appeared Alcaraz, who received treatment on his upper leg before the decider, would need a Herculean effort to spring the upset. The 18-year-old bounced back like a veteran and continued firing away.
“He dealt with it really well. That’s something that’s going to [help him] reach the top and make him the player that he is. It was supposed to be my match,” Tsitsipas said. “Today was a match that I shouldn’t have lost. I can only learn from it.”
The New York crowd got behind Alcaraz. Even after letting slip two match points on his serve in the final-set tie-break, the World No. 55 did not panic.
“He’s young. He fought, he never gave up. I had my opportunities in the third set, lost them,” Tsitsipas said. “I feel if I would have won that third set, I don’t know if [the] psychology would be the same and the attitude. You saw what happened in the fourth. I was literally flying.”
Tsitsipas spoke well about his opponent ahead of the match, and acknowledged his bright future. But one thing surprised the third seed about the Spaniard: his consistency.
“I was returning pretty deep, applying pressure on my returns. I don’t know how much harder I needed to hit my return in order to apply pressure,” Tsitsipas said. “But he [seemed] to be dealing with it really well, comfortably, hitting winners after the first return of mine, just being so much in control, which was surprising, especially in the fifth set.
“I didn’t expect him to raise his level so much, especially after having lost the fourth set this way. He was a completely different player.”