Defending champ Alcaraz reaches Rio Open semi-finals
World No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz made a break in both sets and dominated the tiebreak by beating Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 7-6 (7/0) on Friday in the ATP Rio Open quarter-finals.
The 19-year-old Spaniard scored his third victory in three matches against the 32-year-old Lajovic, including a quarter-final victory over the 80th-place Serb in the quarter-finals at the Argentina Open last week.
Alcaraz won the title to seal his comeback after a four-month layoff due to an injury that caused him to miss the Australian Open.
On Friday, he will face either Chile’s Nicolas Jarry or Argentina’s sixth seed Sebastian Baez for a place in the final in Rio, where he will seek to defend the title that made him the youngest ever winner of last year’s ATP 500 tournament.
British runner-up Cameron Norrie booked his place in the semi-finals by defeating Bolivian Hugo Dellian 4–6, 6–1, 6–4.
Norrie, who is trying to reach his third final of the year, will face Spaniard Bernabé Zapata Miralles, who beat compatriot Albert Ramos Viñolas 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.
Alcaraz improved his perfect record in 2023 to 7-0, but he had to learn a few things along the way.
“It was a very difficult match,” Alcaraz said. “Dushan has a great forehand, a great backhand, a great serve, very good shots, and today he showed it, gave a concert.
“But I was firm. In the end, I was very happy that I solved these problems.”
Alcaraz was down 2-4 in both sets, playing the last four games of the first before finding himself in another battle in the second.
He won 32 victory belts to Lajovic’s 13 and scored 16 of 17 points in the draw.
But 25 unforced errors compounded the difficulties that forced him to take an early break in both sets.
In the second, he came back with a sharp winning left hand to equalize 4-4.
He led 40-0 in game 11, only to give up his serve and save a set point en route to a break in the next game, which forced a tie-break.
“At times like these, very good players are different from the rest of the players and I try to play at the highest level,” Alcaraz said.
Alcaraz, whose five titles last year, including the US Open, made him the world’s youngest number one, dominated the entire decider, losing his first match point with the winner going forward.