Watch: Carlos Alcaraz returns to Queen's ahead of title defense chase

Carlos Alcaraz will face Francisco Cerundolo in the first round

by Jovica Ilic
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Watch: Carlos Alcaraz returns to Queen's ahead of title defense chase
© Luke Walker / Stringer - Getty Images Sport

The Roland Garros champion Carlos Alcaraz is back on the court after enjoying the Parisian title for a couple of days! Carlos arrived in London and hit the practice court at the ATP 500 event at Queen's, hoping to defend the title he claimed a year ago. Alcaraz took a short vacation to Ibiza, celebrating his third Major title at 21 before traveling to London, preparing for the first-round Queen's clash against Francisco Cerundolo. Carlos arrived at Queen's a year ago following the Roland Garros semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard entered his third ATP event on grass and overcame a shaky start en route to five wins and his first ATP trophy on the fastest surface. As we all know, it gave him a boost ahead of Wimbledon, where the young Spaniard ousted Novak Djokovic in a thrilling final en route to his second Major title. Carlos will try to maintain his perfect run on grass this year, defending 2500 ATP points in the upcoming weeks.

Carlos Alcaraz, Queens 2023
Carlos Alcaraz, Queens 2023© Luke Walker / Stringer - Getty Images Sport
 

Alcaraz faced Arthur Rinderknech in the first round at Queen's 12 months ago and prevailed in the deciding tie break. Carlos picked up a pace and took down Jiri Lehecka, the former champion Grigor Dimitrov and Sebastian Korda in straight sets to book a place in the title clash, his first on the fastest surface and 14th in a career. The Spaniard took down the American 6-3, 6-4 in an hour and 21 minutes in the semi-final encounter, remaining on the title course and moving closer to Novak Djokovic in a battle for the ATP throne. Carlos and Sebastian met for the first time in a year, and the younger player notched his third win over his opponent. Alcaraz played well behind the first serve and in his games overall, defending four out of five break points and mounting the pressure on the other side. Korda could not match those numbers, spraying too many errors and suffering three breaks from the nine break points he played against.

Carlos Alcaraz, Queens 2023
Carlos Alcaraz, Queens 2023© Luke Walker / Stringer - Getty Images Sport
 

Carlos Alcaraz will chase the title defense at Queen's next week.

Sebastian made a reliable start and forced Carlos' error in the first game of the encounter for an early break. The American tainted that with three double faults in the second game before denying two break chances in the fourth game, leveling the score at 2-2. Alcaraz struggled behind the initial shot in the fifth game, fending off three break points and remaining on the positive side. Korda denied two break points in the next one and closed it with a backhand winner to stay in touch. The Spaniard kept pushing on the return, creating break chances in the eighth game and fired a forehand winner for a 5-3 advantage. Carlos wrapped up the opener with a service winner in game nine, gaining a boost ahead of set number two. The second set produced nine comfortable holds and one crucial break on Alcaraz's tally in the early stage that carried him home.

Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024
Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport
 

The Spaniard served for the win at 5-4 and moved over the top with a forehand crosscourt winner, setting the title clash against Alex de Minaur. Carlos claimed a 6-4, 6-4 victory in an hour and 39 minutes, lifting a notable grass-court trophy at 20! Alcaraz added 500 ATP points to his tally, passing Novak Djokovic and heading to Wimbledon as world no. 1. Carlos faced two break points and saved them, keeping the pressure on the other side after playing well on serve and return. De Minaur lost serve once in each set, struggling on the second serve and settling for the runner-up prize. The Spaniard settled into a fine rhythm behind the initial shot early on, drawing the Aussie's mistake in the sixth game and leveling the score at 3-3. Alex moved 4-3 in front and shifted into a higher gear on the return in the next one, eager to forge the advantage.

Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024
Carlos Alcaraz, Roland Garros 2024© Getty Images Sport
 

Carlos left his game points behind and defended two break chances, surviving and locking the result at 4-4 after drawing the rival's mistake. Alcaraz gained a boost and secured a break after de Minaur's mistake, opening a 5-4 gap and serving for the opener. The 20-year-old clinched it in style with an ace, wrapping up the first part of the duel in 49 minutes and moving closer to the title. They served well early in the second set, and it changed at 2-2. Alex faced a break point after Carlos' deep return and hit a double fault, falling 3-2 behind and sending the young gun closer to the finish line. Alcaraz cemented the lead with a forehand winner in game six and held the strings of the duel in his hands. The Aussie remained within one break deficit with fine holds in games seven and nine, with the Spaniard serving for the title at 5-4. Carlos climbed back from 0-30 with two service winners and landed another for a match point. The Spaniard sealed the deal with another unreturned serve, celebrating his first grass-court title at a young age.

Carlos Alcaraz Francisco Cerundolo
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