The Sun (Malaysia)

No pain, no gain

Alcaraz plays down Djokovic fears but has Sascha to deal with first


CARLOS ALCARAZ has tamed any concerns over a potential injury after he was spotted with strapping on his thigh during his victory over Matteo Arnaldi. The top seed still managed to dominate as he needed less than two hours to advance to the quarterfin­al in straight sets. But the addition of tape on his leg sparked fears that he could be unable to set up a final against Novak Djokovic because of physical issues.

Alcaraz booked his spot in the last eight of the US Open with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 victory over world No. 61 Arnaldi yesterday. It was one of the Spaniard’s usual entertaini­ng performanc­es filled with stunning shot-making and lots of smiles.

But there was one change that eagle-eyed fans noticed during the match – the 20-yearold had taped up his left thigh, just visible at the bottom of his shorts.

The world No. 1 has now addressed concerns of a possible injury, claiming that the strapping was purely for precaution.

“Well, it’s really tough playing in a Grand Slam,” the defending US Open champion said. “You play tough matches during two weeks.

“For me it’s normal that some pains came to your body, and you have to take care about it.”

While Alcaraz confessed that there had been some pain, he maintained that he was still feeling fine.

“It’s nothing serious, it’s just for prevention. I mean, I felt a little bit that pain on the left leg, but as I said nothing serious. Just taking care about it.”

The world No. 1 has so far been dominant in his first four matches, dropping just one set to Dan Evans. But things are about to ramp up as he faces Alexander Zverev in the quarterfin­al.

And fans are still hoping that Alcaraz and Djokovic will meet in the final of another Grand Slam event.

Any major physical setback could prove to be an issue as Alcaraz tries to retain his crown. And the Spaniard had already skipped training on Sunday.

But if his performanc­e against Arnaldi is anything to go by, the top seed is still playing at his usual high level.

Alcaraz is now fully focused on his next match, against German 12th seed Zverev, who outlasted Jannik Sinner 6-4, 3-6, 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 in a marathon encounter in New York.

The 26-year-old Zverev holds a 3-2 record against Alcaraz and appears to be regaining his best form after a horror ankle injury at last year’s French Open.

Addressing the chance of facing Zverev, Alcaraz said: “Against Sascha, the head-tohead as well is really, really close.

“We’ve played great matches. He’s playing really, really well. This year he’s finding his top level again.

“It’s going to be a really fun, fun match to watch tonight between them, and let’s see I going to play because going to be a really tough quarterfin­al.”

 ?? – AFPPIX ?? Carlos Alcaraz.
– AFPPIX Carlos Alcaraz.

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