Alcaraz, Sinner Hold Firm For Winning Shanghai Debuts

  • Posted: Oct 07, 2023

Alcaraz, Sinner Hold Firm For Winning Shanghai Debuts

Spaniard downs Barrere, Sinner seals Turin spot with Giron victory

Carlos Alcaraz settled in quickly to his maiden Rolex Shanghai Masters campaign on Saturday, when the top seed overcame a spirited Gregoire Barrere 6-2, 7-5 at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

Alcaraz stayed the more consistent at key moments to claim a one-hour, 42-minute triumph against the World No. 73. He made a lightning-fast start inside Qizhong Forest Sports City Arena, where he raced to a 4-0 lead early and ultimately saved six of seven break points he faced to improve to 15-0 in opening matches this season. The Spaniard was delighted to bounce back quickly from his defeat to Jannik Sinner in the Beijing semi-finals just four days ago.

“I had just one practice here in Shanghai and then the match,” reflected the Spaniard. “I think he was more used to these conditions. He had more practice, a match in the bag, so it was really difficult to adapt my game in a new city, new conditions, but I think I did pretty well.

“I played really focused, I tried to take lessons from the last match in Beijing and tried to be a better player. I tried to not make the mistakes I did in Beijing and I think today I did pretty well.”

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Barrere competed well in his maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with Alcaraz, particularly from the baseline where he regularly matched Alcaraz’s power and precision with his groundstrokes. He struggled with his serve throughout the match, though, making just 53 per cent (42/79) of first deliveries. That tally undermined the Frenchman’s bid for a first Top 10 win as Alcaraz maintained constant pressure in return games.

Alcaraz appeared to be marching to victory when he broke for 4-3 in the second set, but Barrere produced an immediate burst of clean hitting to clinch his first break of the match in the next game. He continued to struggle against the Spaniard’s razor-sharp returning, however, and Alcaraz claimed his second break of the set in the 11th game before sealing victory by pulling off a remarkable behind-the-back shot on match point.

Now 62-8 for the season, Alcaraz will take on 30th seed Daniel Evans or qualifier Mikhail Kukushkin in the third round as he chases his third Masters 1000 crown of the year. The Spaniard is also attempting to leapfrog Novak Djokovic into first place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin by reaching the final in Shanghai.

Alcaraz’s rival Sinner also kick-started his Shanghai campaign with a straight-sets win. The Italian defeated Marcos Giron 7-6(7), 6-2 for his sixth consecutive win, delivering a solid display to back up winning his third ATP Tour title of the season in Beiing.

The victory secured Sinner’s spot at the 2023 Nitto ATP Finals. The 22-year-old competed at the prestigious season finale in Turin as an alternate two years ago, but this marks the first time he has qualified directly.

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It was not all plain sailing against Giron for Sinner, who trailed 3/6 in the first-set tie-break and went on to save four set points, including one with a net cord at 5/6, before prevailing. He took command in the second set as his superior power overwhelmed Giron, and Sinner finished with 25 winners to just 15 from his American opponent.

“I’m very happy. The first-round matches are never easy,” said Sinner. “I tried somehow to raise my level. I knew before the match that especially the first set was going to be tough and I started off not in the best possible way. I just tried to stay there, especially mentally. I got lucky when he had set point, so happy about the ending.

“If I see the positive, at the end of the match I played a little bit better so hopefully it gives me confidence for the next round.”

Sinner’s recent focus on improving his net game, so evident during his Beijing title run, was again on display against Giron. The Italian won 90 per cent (19/21) of points when he moved forward, according to the INSIGHTS ‘Battles At Net’ analysis for the match.

Next up for Sinner in Shanghai is a third-round clash with 25th seed Sebastian Baez. It will be a maiden Lexus ATP Head2Head clash between the two.

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