For the first time, Carlos Alcaraz has lost a match but is still in with a chance of winning an ATP Tour tournament. With the exception of the Davis Cup, a team event with a very different format, the Spaniard had never before suffered a defeat and had to return to his hotel and focus on his next clash in the same event. Such is the current situation for the No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings at the Nitto ATP Finals.
After succumbing to Alexander Zverev, Alcaraz will be back on court on Wednesday in the knowledge that he can still progress to the semi-finals.
“Congratulations to Alex for the win!” wrote the Spaniard on his Instagram account. “This tournament is different in many ways, and one of them is that it allows you to reach the semis despite losing the first match. We will give our all on Wednesday!”
Unlike any standard tournament on the ATP Tour, where a defeat sends you packing, the Nitto ATP Finals and its group stage mean players can bounce back from a poor start. There are many examples of players who have lost their opener and gone on to reach the semi-finals. There is also the case of Nikolay Davydenko in 2009. In the competition’s first year in the O2 Arena in London, after a stint in Shanghai from 2005 to 2008, Davydenko lost to Novak Djokovic on Day 1, but later beat Rafael Nadal and Robin Soderling (group stage), Roger Federer (semis), and Juan Martín del Potro (final) to get his hands on the title.
“It’s the only tournament where a loss does not knock you out,” explained Alcaraz. “I still have a chance to continue improving and to get through the group stage. Tomorrow I’ll practise to improve everything that I didn’t do well today, which is a lot,” added the Murcia native, before a more in-depth self-critique.
“Even though the court is very fast, I need to be more consistent,” he said. “At the end of the second set and the start of the third, I hit three or four shots out straight away. That can’t happen, although everyone has their own style. I watch Novak, for example, and he doesn’t give anything away straight away. My consistency was really lacking against Zverev.”
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The defeat in Turin is a third in a row for the Spaniard (Shanghai, Paris-Bercy and Turin), something that he last experienced in March 2021 (an ATP Challenger in Las Palmas, then Acapulco and Miami). What does the two-time Grand Slam champion put this down to?
“I’ve been training pretty well, feeling good,” explained Alcaraz. “I was feeling good physically and still am, but after the defeat I don’t feel good in terms of my tennis level,” he added. “It’s been a long and demanding year. I have to improve to get to this point of the season in better conditions, above all mentally. It’s probably mental fatigue. If I want to win this tournament… I have to get to this point of the year relaxed with a desire to win everything that is put in front of me,” he declared.
“At least I know exactly what is happening and what I have to improve on. I will have to get to work. I’m getting increasingly better at facing this kind of player, and even more so here, where every match could be a Grand Slam final.”