Carlos Alcaraz could now be just two wins away from a US Open final against Novak Djokovic, but his latest triumph was laced with concern for his fans around the world.
Alcaraz wasted little time in seeing off Matteo Arnaldi to march into the last eight at the US Open, with the defending champion sealing a convincing 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 win in another convincing match on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Yet the sight of strapping on Alcaraz’s left leg set alarm bells ringing, as he was seen wearing the support for the first time in this tournament.
While Alcaraz appeared to be moving well, any hint of an injury would be a concern ahead of his quarter-final match on Wednesday and what could be a blockbuster final against Djokovic on Sunday.
Yet Alcaraz has insisted the injury is not a major concern at this point, after he missed a practice session on Sunday and then appeared on court with his leg wrapped.
The word from the Alcaraz camp suggests the injury was not a big issue and he did his best to back up that diagnosis with his straight-sets win against talented rival Arnaldi.
Alcaraz then commented on his injury issue in his press conference as he stated: “It’s pretty tough playing in a Grand Slam. You play tough matches during two weeks and it’s normal that you get some pains in your body and you have to take care of it. It’s nothing serious. I’m just taking care of it.”
If this was Alcaraz carrying an injury, it may his performance all the more impressive.
Arnaldi did manage a break at the start of the third but it was quickly snuffed out as Alcaraz raced to victory in under two hours.
“The intensity from the beginning to the last ball, I think I played a really solid match,” said Alcaraz.
“Less mistakes. I played my game. Tried to go to the net all the time. I am really happy with the performance in general. I focus on every match and I really feel happy that I did it today.
“Right now my favourite surface is hard court and when I won Wimbledon I said I fell in love with grass. I am really comfortable with the three surfaces, but right now hard courts is my favourite one.”
Once again, Alcaraz played this match with a joy that confirmed he is willing to entertain the fans as well as trying to defend his US Open crown.
“Obviously, I want to win every match that I play, but at the same time, I want to have fun,” said Alcaraz after his win against Dan Evans on Saturday.
“I try different things, make the people enjoy watching tennis and watching my matches. Sometimes I talk to myself about what is most important: if I win or doing great things.
“I always have that variety. When I was young, I’m playing, you know, under-12, under-14 tournaments, I did this.
“In my mind comes a lot of different things before hitting the shot. Probably the drop shot, big forehand, go to the net, you know, multiple things, you know, and sometimes it was tough to find the right one.
“For me, you know, when I was younger, it was difficult sometimes. But right now I think most of the time I find the right one, but sometimes I struggle, you know, to hit good shots because of that.”
At the age of 20, Alcaraz already seems to have taken over the mantle of the most popular player in the men’s game and that is partly due to the effervescence he displays every time he takes to the court.
Djokovic may be a winning machine, but his great rival is trying to end his era of dominance at the top of the men’s game using a brand of tennis that is bringing a whole new audience to tennis.
The article Carlos Alcaraz issues injury update after US Open scare as Novak Djokovic showdown edges closer appeared first on Tennis365.com.