Alcaraz crushes Shapovalov to reach last-16 at French Open

By Paul Myers - RFI
Sports News AP - Christophe Ena
JUN 2, 2023 LISTEN
AP - Christophe Ena

Top seed Carlos Alcaraz displayed guile, cunning and ruthlessness to outmanoeuvre Denis Shapovalov on Friday night and sweep into the last-16 at the French Open.

The 20-year-old Spaniard exploded into action and raced into a 5-0 lead within 25 minutes.

Shapovalov saved two set points to eventually get on the board and at least force Alcaraz to serve for the opener.

He completed the task to claim the set 6-1 with little fuss. But in the second set, Shapovalov started to add grit to his extravagant shotmaking.

After a flurry of breaks, Shapovalov held for 4-1 to the delight of the crowd on centre court fearing an annihilation.

But that was as good as it got for the 24-year-old Canadian. Alcaraz went on a seven-game roll that would furnish him with the second set 6-4 and a 2-0 advantage in the third.

Shapovalov at least broke the sequence to cut the deficit to 2-1 but Alcaraz turned on the afterburners to move 5-1 ahead. And he pocketed the set 6-2 to complete the rout in two hours and nine minutes.

"I played at a good level," said Alcaraz. "I had to be strong mentally. Even when I was down in the second set I knew that I would have my chances."

Alcaraz will take on the 17th seed Lorenzo Musetti in the last-16 after the 21-year-old Italian disposed of the 13th seed Cameron Norrie in straight sets.

"I know Lorenzo well from when we were kids," said Alcaraz. "He beat me last time so I'll be looking to take my revenge."

Elsewhere in the men's draw, the unseeded Peruvian Juan Pablo Varillas shocked the 13th seed Hubert Hurkacz in five sets.

The 27-year-old claimed the decider 6-2 to end an encounter that finished nine minutes shy of four hours.

Varillas, who lost in the first round in his visits to this year's Australian Open and last year's French Open, will take on the 22-time Grand Slam singles champion Novak Djokovic on Sunday for a place in the quarter-final.

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas eased past Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-2, 6-3 to set up a last-16 clash with Sebastian Ofner after the Austrian battled past the Italian veteran Fabio Fognini in five sets.

In the women's draw, second seed Aryna Sabalenka blasted past Kamilla Rakhimova 6-2, 6-2 to reach the last-16 for the first time where she will face the 2018 finalist Sloane Stephens.

"This win gives me so much belief in myself here in Paris," said the 25-year-old from Belarus who will take on the American for the fourth time

"Sloane is a great player and it always been tough battles against her," said Sabalenka who has won all of their previous encounters.

"She's moving well, putting a lot of balls back ... not so many unforced errors from her. So you have to win the point. I'm really looking forward to it."

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova ousted her fellow Russian Anastasia Potapova. She beat the 24th seed 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 to set up a last-16 match with the 28th seed Elise Mertens who overwhelmed the third seed Jessica Pegula 6-1, 6-3.

Elina Svitolina from Ukraine and Elina Avanesyan from Russia also moved into the last-16 with victories over Anna Blinkova and Clara Tauson respectively.