A lightning-fast start set the tone for Carlos Alcaraz on Thursday at the Rolex Paris Masters, where the World No. 1 won nine of the first 10 games en route to a 6-1, 6-3 third-round victory against Grigor Dimitrov.
Alcaraz was dialled-in from the start in his maiden ATP Head2Head meeting with the former World No. 3 Dimitrov. Striking the ball cleanly off both wings from the baseline and deploying his drop shot to good effect throughout, the Spaniard converted five of seven break points against the Bulgarian’s serve to wrap an impressive 72-minute win.
“I started playing pretty well,” said Alcaraz after the match. “[Grigor’s] level is very much not the level you saw today, but I played very well. At the end of the second set, it was tougher for me, he came back, he raised the level and obviously it was tough. He had the chance to go up in the second set, I had to stay calm in that moment and show my best to not allow him to go up.”
In a near-flawless opening, Alcaraz’s all-around game left the former World No. 3 Dimitrov with few chances to counter. The Spaniard dropped just two points behind serve in the first set as he picked up where he had left off in his straight-sets second-round win against Yoshihito Nishioka.
Dimitrov found his feet to reel off three straight games from 0-3 to draw level in the second set before carving out two break point opportunities for a 4-3 lead, but Alcaraz’s relentless consistency proved crucial. He held off the Bulgarian’s charge to advance to the quarter-finals for the first time in Paris, where he will take on seventh seed Andrey Rublev or Holger Rune.
“In that moment you have to stay calm, to think [about] what is happening and after that try to change a little bit,” said Alcaraz, when asked about Dimitrov’s second-set comeback. “I [made] a couple of mistakes at the beginning of the match, but after that I stayed calm.”
Alcaraz Presented No. 1 Trophy: ‘It’s A Dream Come True’
Should Alcaraz lift his third Masters 1000 title of the year in Paris, the 19-year-old would be confirmed as the year-end No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings ahead of his debut appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals. He admitted he was enjoying playing in front of his parents in the French capital, where he received the ATP No. 1 trophy presented by Pepperstone during a ceremony on Monday evening.
“It’s such a pleasure,” said Alcaraz. “It’s tough to bring them to tournaments, and to have them in the box during the week is so special. Of course, taking the trophy for No. 1 in front of them was so special for me.”