Alcaraz Survives Zeppieri Charge To Reach Umag Final

  • Posted: Jul 30, 2022

Alcaraz Survives Zeppieri Charge To Reach Umag Final

Win lifts Spaniard to No. 4 in Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings

After opening his Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag campaign with a pair of comfortable straight-sets wins, Carlos Alcaraz’s title defence was given a stern semi-final test on Saturday evening at the ATP 250 event in Croatia.

The top seed prevailed 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 in an absorbing #NextGenATP battle against Giulio Zeppieri to reach a Tour-leading sixth final of 2022. Alcaraz overcame a nasty roll of his right ankle in the second set before triumphing in a dramatic decider as Zeppieri struggled with cramp soon after reeling off three games in a row to level at 3-3.

“It’s amazing to be in a final here again,” said Alcaraz in his on-court interview. “I enjoy playing here in Umag and I’m really happy with the win today.”

With the win, Alcaraz rose above Stefanos Tsitsipas to No. 4 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — setting him up to reach a new career-high on Monday — and improved his record in Umag to 8-0. He will face another Italian, second seed Jannik Sinner or qualifier Franco Agamenone, in Sunday’s championship match. It will also be Alcaraz’s 100th tour-level match, and the 19-year-old was confident his ankle would be in good shape to compete.

“At the moment it is good,” said Alcaraz. “I don’t feel too much right now. Let’s see tonight or tomorrow morning, but I am going to say I will be ready for the final.

“It would be amazing in my 100th match to get the win, and of course it is amazing to be No. 4 on Monday. It’s something great for me, but right now I am just focussed on the final.”

A close encounter in the Croatian heat saw some spectacular exchanges between Alcaraz and Zeppieri, with both crushing heavy balls from the baseline and enjoying plenty of success in return games. Alcaraz converted six from 15 break points and Zeppieri four from 13, as both players stayed aggressive throughout.

After Zeppieri rallied to level in the deciding set, however, the Italian’s physical exertions in Umag, where he was playing his fifth three-set match across qualifying and main draw competition, appeared to catch up with him. Alcaraz was clinical in reeling off the three games he needed for a two-hour, 56-minute win.

Until that point Zeppieri, roared on by a large contingent of Italian fans, went toe-to-toe with Alcaraz in a performance that belied the fact he had not won an ATP Tour match prior to this week. Despite just falling short in Saturday’s semi-final, the 20-year old’s run in Umag lifts the Italian 33 spots to No. 135 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings.

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