Five weeks before Roland-Garros (May 28-June 11), Carlos Alcaraz confirms, if some doubted it, that he will be one of the big favorites for the title on Parisian clay, provided injuries spare him by then. Sunday April 23 in Barcelona, the Spaniard won, against the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (6-3, 6-4), the 9e title of his young career, he who will celebrate his 20th birthday on May 5.
A year ago, on this same Catalan soil, the Murcian had already dismissed the Greek in the quarter-finals, before lifting the trophy two days later. It was the last time he played tennis without having his napkin ring at the World Top 10 table. Since then, he won his first Grand Slam title, at the last US Open, where he did a double blow by climbing to the highest step of the world throne, only abandoned at the beginning of April to Novak Djokovic.
On the “pista Rafa Nadal”, the Central Barcelona baptized thus even before the retirement of his national hero – still not recovered from his injury contracted in Melbourne at the end of January – his younger brother showed off his complete tennis panoply despite his young age. Power as much as touch of the ball, depositing amortized on amortized in the nose and beard of the Greek, but also science of the game and desperate returns. In less than an hour and a half, the case was folded with style, bordering on demonstration.
“We are fascinated by your tennis”
Tsitsipas could only bow, paying him a heartfelt tribute during the trophy ceremony: “I had the opportunity to discover you a few years ago, some of us, who arrived on the circuit before you, were fascinated by your tennis. Even though we are older than you, we see you as an example. Your prowess will push us to try to be better,” greeted his victim of the day.
Barcelona is only the first European tournament on clay, this season, for Carlos Alcaraz, who had given up lining up in Monte-Carlo, officially for back and left hand pain. But the punchy right-hander was already playing his fourth final in five tournaments since January, winning in Buenos Aires in February and Indian Wells in March.
After two weeks off the circuit at the end of the Masters 1000 in Miami, which he left in the semi-finals after a loss in three sets (7-6, 4-6, 2-6) against the Italian Jannik Sinner, Alcaraz had been sluggish on his arrival in Barcelona. Before methodically gaining momentum to finally retain his crown by inflicting a fourth defeat in four confrontations on Tsitsipas.
For the Greek, 5e world champion and finalist of the last Australian Open in January, the statistics are cruel. This is the third final lost on Catalan soil for the 24-year-old, already defeated twice by Rafael Nadal in 2018 and 2021.
Tsitsipas and Alcaraz will meet next week at the Masters 1000 in Madrid, where they will once again be the headliners. After the withdrawals of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and, this Sunday, Jannik Sinner, Carlos Alcaraz will appear as the big favorite in the Spanish capital.