Carlos Alcaraz returns to Queen's, seeking title defense

Carlos Alcaraz is the first player signed for the 2024 edition of Queen's

by Jovica Ilic
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Carlos Alcaraz returns to Queen's, seeking title defense
© Luke Walker / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

World no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz will seek his second consecutive title at Queen's in June, with the organizers signing the reigning champion for this year's edition. Carlos played only his third ATP tournament on grass last year, making a slow start but passing the first obstacle and gaining confidence.

Alcaraz made his Queen's debut against Arthur Rinderknech, scoring a tight 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 victory in two hours and 34 minutes. The Spaniard lost the opener and bounced back with a late break in the second set. Rinderknech built an early advantage in the final set but lost it instantly.

They stayed neck and neck, and Carlos sealed the deal with a fine performance in the tie break.

Carlos Alcaraz, Queens 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Nothing separated the two rivals, with three breaks in each side and two points more on the Spaniard's tally.

Arthur denied three break points at 3-3 in the opener, saving them with powerful serves and gaining a boost. Carlos lost serve at love in the eighth game after netting a smash, pushing his rival 5-3 in front. Rinderknech squandered a set point in the ninth game after a loose volley and got broken after Alcaraz's return winners.

However, the young gun experienced the second straight break in game ten after a forced error, allowing his rival to clinch the set 6-4. They served well in the opening ten games of the second set before the Spaniard stepped in on the return.

Carlos broke Arthur at 15 in the 11th game with a forehand down the line winner, moving in front and wrapping up the set with a backhand winner in the next one for 7-5. The Frenchman survived break points in the first game of the decider and grabbed a break in the next one for a 2-0 advantage.

However, world no. 2 stayed competitive and pulled the break back in the third game, returning to the positive side and gaining confidence. Rinderknech survived on serve in games seven and nine, and they served well in the closing stages to arrange a decisive tie break.

Alcaraz grabbed three mini-breaks and fired a service winner for 5-1. The Spaniard painted a forehand crosscourt winner at 6-3, seizing the third match point and moving over the top.

Carlos Alcaraz, Queens 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Carlos Alcaraz will defend his Queen's title in June.

World no.

2 met Jiri Lehecka in the second round and scored a routine 6-2, 6-3 win in an hour and 25 minutes for a place in the quarter-final. Carlos saved all three break points and maintained the pressure on the other side. He broke the young Czech three times from nine chances, controlling the scoreboard and enjoying a relaxed day at the office.

Alcaraz landed 22 winners and 24 from his serve, building the advantage in the shortest and mid-range exchanges. Carlos made a strong start, breaking in the second game of the match and creating another break chance in the fourth game.

Jiri denied it and closed the game with a service winner. The Spaniard grabbed another break at 5-2 with a backhand crosscourt winner, wrapping it up in 39 minutes. Not stopping there, Alcaraz delivered a break at love in the second game of the second set with a forehand down the line return winner, moving closer to the finish line.

Carlos served at 3-1 and experienced the only loose service game of the match. The Spaniard denied three break points and held with an ace for 4-1. Lehecka denied a match point on serve in the eighth game with a service winner, prolonging the battle before Alcaraz seized the third match point on his serve at 5-3.

Carlos faced the former champion Grigor Dimitrov in the quarter-final and earned a 6-4, 6-4 win in an hour and 32 minutes. The young gun saved six out of eight break points and grabbed four return games from six chances, playing better in the decisive moments and remaining on the title course.

Carlos Alcaraz, Queens 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Imges Sport

Dimitrov experienced a setback in the first game of the match, wasting a 40-15 lead and losing serve. Carlos denied three break points in the sixth game with winners, holding for a 4-2 advantage.

Alcaraz served for the first set at 5-4 and painted a slice winner for a hold at love, securing the opener in 42 minutes. Grigor grabbed a break in the second game of the second set with a forehand crosscourt winner, confirming it with a service winner in game three.

Carlos erased the deficit with a volley winner at the net in the fifth game and saved a break point in the next one to level the score at 3-3. Alcaraz clinched another break in game seven, landing a backhand crosscourt winner and stealing the rival's serve at 15.

The more experienced player pulled it back in the eighth game, locking the result at 4-4. However, the Bulgarian netted a forehand in the ninth game, getting broken for the third straight time and allowing the Spaniard to serve for the win in game ten.

Carlos sealed the deal with a service winner, moving over the top and entering the semi-final. Alcaraz battled for a place in the final against Sebastian Korda and delivered a 6-3, 6-4 win in an hour and 21 minutes, notching his first ATP title match on grass.

Carlos saved four out of five break points and delivered three breaks to control the pace and move through. Korda grabbed a break in the first game of the encounter and hit three double faults in the next one, bringing Alcaraz back to the positive side.

Carlos Alcaraz, Queens 2024© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Spaniard overcame three break points in the fifth game, firing a service winner and bringing the game home. Sebastian saved two break points in the sixth game before facing more issues at 3-4.

Carlos grabbed a break with a forehand down the line winner, opening a 5-3 advantage and serving for the set. The Spaniard landed a service winner for 6-3 after 43 minutes, gaining a boost ahead of the second set. Alcaraz secured a break at love at 1-1 in the second set with a forehand return winner, building a massive advantage.

Korda followed the rival's pace in the rest of the set but could not create break chances. Alcaraz served for the victory at 5-4 and painted a forehand crosscourt winner to seal the deal and set the title clash against Alex de Minaur.

Seeking his first grass-court ATP title, Carlos earned a 6-4, 6-4 win in an hour and 39 minutes, adding 500 ATP points to his tally and passing Novak Djokovic on the ATP throne. Alcaraz saved two break points and broke his rival once in each set to celebrate his 11th ATP title.

Carlos Alcaraz
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