Roland Garros

Alcaraz tests his smile at Roland Garros

The Spaniard seeks his third Grand Slam title in Paris

May 29, 2024

Bertrand Guay/ATP via Getty Images

Carlos Alcaraz added his 20th victory of the 2024 season this Wednesday at Roland Garros.
By Staff

The shadow of Carlos Alcaraz continues to lengthen at Roland Garros, where he seeks to recover the vigor that took him to the top of men’s tennis. The Spaniard booked his ticket to the third round in Paris this Wednesday after resisting Jesper de Jong 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2, defeating the Dutchman in one of the harshest matches in memory of him. in the first week of a Grand Slam. If the objective is to recover the power in his forehand, hampered by a muscle injury in the middle of a clay tour, the Murcian secured a new opportunity to achieve it.

“Any player can cause you problems,” acknowledged the Spaniard. “You have to concentrate on each round, on each match, on each point. It doesn’t matter if the opponent is at the top of the ranking or outside the Top 100. You have to believe that you need your best level to advance. Jesper has shown that these numbers don’t matter. The important thing is the work and the level that you are capable of displaying. I am sure that he is going to make it to the Top 100.”

On a day marked by rain, a constant in the first days of competition, the shelter of the main stadiums focused all attention on the main stars. Placed against the world No. 174, Alcaraz took advantage of the stage to unleash his blows and try to acquire the competition rhythm not enjoyed in recent weeks. Far from finding a bed of roses, Carlos found himself immersed in a tense match.

On the other side of the net he found the living image of a player with everything to win. De Jong, a debutant in a Grand Slam main draw and seasoned in the reality of the ATP Challenger Tour, jumped onto the court ready to hit the ball with virulence, clinging to the possibility of surprise with each hit. The Dutchman thus played a restless match, full of quick hands on the net and a sublime forehand in the background, demanding total concentration from the Spaniard.

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“Come on, enjoy! Let it show!” Juan Carlos Ferrero’s words illustrated the atmosphere experienced by Alcaraz, who lost his characteristic smile during much of the match.

Thus, the match delivered one episode of difficulty after another. Alcaraz needed to overcome a break in the first set, struggled to break the second set and, despite having the match on track, found himself in danger from the third set. Refusing to give up, De Jong showed himself capable of breaking Alcaraz’s defenses at the back of the court, leading to a break in the fourth quarter. With an effort of more than three hours, Carlos managed to contain the revolt in time to seal his victory.

“In the third set I saw that I had to forget about the show and try to give myself a chance to get into exchanges,” said Carlos. “It was difficult for me to do it, but I am happy to have managed it in the end. Throughout the match Jesper has thrown drop shots, spectacular blows,… I think he has done that better than me.”

“I would have preferred not to spend so much time on the track. I want to be in good shape for the next match. Each meeting is different. One day you can spend an hour and a half on the court, and the next day have a three-hour match. It is good for me to gain this pace, but I would have preferred a shorter match.”

The world No. 3 has put his intuition to the test at the Philippe Chatrier, linking matches against two unprecedented rivals in his entire career. Despite the lack of references, his clashes against JJ Wolf and De Jong allow him to accumulate efforts on the court, a treasure after a practically blank European clay season.


The victory served to highlight the solidity in Paris of the Murcian, who has reached at least the third round in his four visits to the Bosque de Bologna. Now, after overcoming the first two obstacles in the draw, Alcaraz will face the duel that could send him to the second week of the tournament, where the big objectives are decided. Carlos will face American No. 27 seed Sebastian Korda or South Korean Soonwoo Kwon in the next round.

Alcaraz has signed a story of immediate chemistry on the clay of Roland Garros. The pupil of Juan Carlos Ferrero, who already has a record of 13-3 in the Parisian major, reached the quarterfinals in 2022 (l. to Zverev) and pushed himself to the semifinals in 2023, taking a round from the eventual champion Novak Djokovic before suffering an abdominal mishap that hampered his chances in Paris. With this accumulated experience, the Murcian will seek to take another step this fortnight in the French capital.

Despite his 21 years, as a multiple Grand Slam winner, Alcaraz has already achieved a prominent place in the history of Spanish tennis. Now, he works with the hope of adding his name to the list of honor of the major with the most tradition for La Armada, whose list of male champions includes Manuel Santana, Andrés Gimeno, Sergi Bruguera, Carlos Moyà, Albert Costa, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Rafael Nadal.

Did you know…?
Carlos Alcaraz aims to become the third active man with at least one Grand Slam singles title on three different surfaces. The versatility of the Spaniard, champion on the hard courts of the US Open 2022 and on the grass of Wimbledon 2023, seeks to complete the feat on the clay of Roland Garros and follow in the footsteps of his compatriot Rafael Nadal and the Serbian Novak Djokovic.


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