Former Australian tennis player Paul McNamee observed that the absence of Rafael Nadal's shadow at Roland Garros has been filled seamlessly by Carlos Alcaraz.
Alcatraz was quick off the blocks in his third-round match against Denis Shapovalov, notching up a 4-0 lead in a mere 19 minutes. The Canadian only managed to win a solitary game as Alcaraz wrapped up the first set, 6-1, in just 37 minutes.
Undeterred by his performance in the first set, Shapovalov showed flashes of his brilliance as the second set got underway. The two players traded breaks, with the Canadian edged ahead with a 4-1 lead. The lead was short-lived as Alcaraz held serve in the next game and won a crucial 16-shot rally that earned him a break point.
An unforced error from Shapovalov handed the Alcaraz the lead allowing the World N0. 1 to break the Canadian for the second time in the set. Piling up the unforced errors didn't help Shapovalov, as he lost the third set and the match in 2 hours, 10 minutes.
McNamee expressed his thoughts on Twitter, mentioning that the expected "Rafa shadow" over Roland Garros was not present, but Alcaraz has admirably filled the void. He highlighted Alcaraz's dominant performance against Shapovalov, who had previously engaged in epic matches with Nadal in Rome, even winning one of them.
“Being here, hitting me is a strange feeling there is no ‘Rafa’ shadow over Roland Garros as expected…it’s seamlessly filled by Alcaraz, especially given the way he dismantled Shapovalov, who had two epic matches with Nadal in Rome (winning one),” posted McNamee on his Twitter feed.
Carlos Alcaraz dominates Denis Shapovalov in their first meeting at Roland Garros
Competing in his third French Open, top seed Carlos Alcaraz advanced to the fourth round for the second time after a commanding victory over Denis Shapovalov on Friday night.
The Spaniard won 6-1, 6-4, 6-2 in an evening matchup on Court Philippe-Chatrier, with both competitors thrilling the late-night crowd. Alcaraz, who reached the quarter-finals in 2022, will next face Italy's Lorenzo Musetti in a bid to match that result.
Carlos Alcaraz nearly dropped the second set against 32nd-ranked Shapovalov and was trailing 1-4 at one point. The World No. 1 pulled his socks up and won the next seven games, stealing the set and surging ahead to a 2-0 advantage in the final set. Shapovalov's game was undermined thanks to a lack of consistency and Alcaraz upping his game in response to the Canadian's resurgence in the 2nd set.
Lorenzo Musetti, who beat the Spaniard in their lone encounter at the 2022 Hamburg final, stands in the way Alcaraz's quest for a quarter-final spot. The pressure will be on Carlos Alcaraz, the youngest No. 1 seed at Roland Garros since Bjorn Borg in 1976, to reverse the Hamburg Open result when the duo meet on Sunday. Should he cross the Musetti hurdle, he could bump into Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals and Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals.