Alcaraz Meets Red-Hot Rune In Paris QFs
One year ago, Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune met in the group stage of the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. Since then, both 19-year-olds have rocketed up the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Alcaraz rising to World No. 1 and Rune reaching a career high of No. 18.
The future has arrived, and fans at the Rolex Paris Masters will see it first-hand on Friday as Alcaraz and Rune square off for a second time in the quarter-finals.
The unseeded Rune — a finalist in each of his past three events, including a run to his second career title in Stockholm — has had the more challenging path to the final eight. He edged Stan Wawrinka in a third-set tie-break in the first round before impressive straight-sets wins against 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz and seventh seed Andrey Rublev. The Dane has won 16 of his past 18 matches, including wins against Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas.
Alcaraz has yet to drop a set in Paris as he’s rounded into form with wins against Yoshihito Nishioka and Grigor Dimitrov.
“I would say I played better,” he said following a 6-1, 6-3 win against Dimitrov on Thursday. “I’m more used to playing here in this court, in these conditions. I’m happy with the performance, and of course really happy with be able to play my first quarter-final here in Bercy.”
The Spaniard reached the second round last year at the ATP Masters 1000, while Rune is making his tournament debut.
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Also in the draw’s top half, Felix Auger-Aliassime will seek to extend his 14-match win streak when he takes on US Open semi-finalist Frances Tiafoe, who has won all six sets he’s played this week. The Canadian is seeking his fourth straight title after triumphs in Florence, Antwerp and Basel.
Defending champion Novak Djokovic will look to stay perfect against #NextGenATP Italian Lorenzo Musetti in their bottom-half matchup, with the Serbian 2-0 in their previous ATP Head2Head meetings. Six-time Paris titlist Djokovic has progressed to the quarters with straight-sets wins against Maxime Cressy and Karen Khachanov, while Musetti upset third seed Casper Ruud 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 to advance on Thursday.
Djokovic is riding an 11-match win streak after titles in Tel Aviv and Astana, and has claimed 12 straight victories in Paris dating back to his trophy runs in 2019 and 2021. The Serbian has also won 19 of his past 20 matches since the start of Wimbledon – losing only to Auger-Aliassime at the Laver Cup — but is taking nothing for granted against Musetti.
“He’s definitely a much-improved player on [hard courts],” Djokovic said of his 20-year-old opponent. “He has had some big wins this week, his first [hard-court] title a few weeks ago [in Naples].
“He’s so talented, he’s got everything in his game. He can play in the court, he can defend well, he’s got great movement, but I know his game well and I’m looking forward to a good challenge.”
Stefanos Tsitsipas and Tommy Paul will contest the fourth quarter-final, with the American bidding to knock out a third seeded opponent in succession. Paul knocked out a trio of Spaniards to reach the quarters, including a comeback, three-set upset of second seed Rafael Nadal in the second round. He also blitzed past Roberto Bautista Agut in the opening round and 14th seed Pablo Carreno Busta on Thursday.
The fifth-seeded Tsitsipas joins Djokovic, Alcaraz and Tiafoe with an undefeated set record on the week following wins against Daniel Evans and home favourite Corentin Moutet. The Greek won both prior meetings with Paul in straight sets, in Washington, D.C., in 2019 and Lyon in 2021.