With No. 2 in his sights, Carlos Alcaraz storms into Cincinnati QFs | ATP Tour

The rapid rise of Carlo Alcaraz continues this week at the Western & Southern Open, where his 7-6(4), 6-1 win over him Marin Cilic on Thursday made him the youngest quarterfinalist at the event since Andy Murray 16 years ago.

The Spaniard was able to pass Rafael Nadal and Alexander Zverev 2nd in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings by winning his third ATP Masters title of the season in Cincinnati. After reaching the quarterfinals, he remains in 4th place Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings but is less than 600 points behind second place.

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Alcaraz showed great resilience against Cilic on center court and bounced back strongly after missing two set points while attempting to serve the opener.

“I know that Marin is a very aggressive player. I really had to concentrate on the game,” Alcaraz said after his win. “I knew it was going to be a tough game, I had to be [mentally] all the time in the game. I knew I would have my chances to break his big serve. So I’m very happy with the performance and concentration in the game.”

The 19-year-old controlled rallies and didn’t drop a point on the first serve until stepping on the line in the opener at 5-4. But the Croatian resumed his aggression late in the set and after three straight Alcaraz double faults that returned his break advantage, a quick Cilic hold forced his opponent to serve to stay in the set.

Rising to the occasion, Alcaraz attacked again, winning eight points in a row and regaining control of the set and match.

“Obviously things like that can happen in very tight moments,” he said of the serve hiccup. “It’s hard to come back after three double faults in a row to break my serve at this moment but I’m serving really well so I’ll just practice a little bit more tomorrow before the quarterfinals. But I have quite a bit of confidence.”

In the second set, Alcaraz cemented an early love break by saving two break points at 2-0. He continued to dictate play and was rewarded with an insurance break late in the set.

Alcaraz finished a strong performance on serve with eight aces and an 83 percent first serve winrate, surpassing the four aces and 60 percent first serve winrate of the big serve Cilic. The Croatian finished with 27 unforced errors as he was forced to apply pressure to stay in the rallies against his in-form opponent.

The Spaniard meets the ninth seed next Cameron Norriewho ended the dream debut of Ben Shelton with a 6-0, 6-2 win on Thursday night.

Alcaraz, who is 17-3 at the ATP Masters 1000 this season, is bidding for his third title at this prestigious level (Miami, Madrid). He is the only player with multiple Masters 1000 titles in 2022.

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