Korda Upsets Alcaraz In Young-Gun Battle

Sebastian Korda earned the biggest win of his season Wednesday at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, edging #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz 7-6(2), 6-7(5), 6-3 to reach the third round.

World No. 11 Alcaraz arrived in Monte-Carlo in red-hot form, having captured his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Miami. However, the 18-year-old, who was making his debut at the clay-court event, was unable to cope with Korda’s heavy-hitting, variety and the windy conditions on Court Rainier III.

The American rallied from a break down in the third set with the wind leading to errors and few long rallies as the match went on. With his three-hour, one-minute victory, Korda gained revenge for his defeat to Alcaraz at the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, where the Spaniard triumphed in the championship match.

“It was nice to get the victory today, Korda said in his on-court interview. “I stayed calm and believed in my returning. It was super tough, every time he threw up the ball it moved around. It was a crazy match.”

Korda, who eliminated Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp in the first round, is also competing in Monte-Carlo for the first time. The World No. 42 will next face Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz or Croatian Marin Cilic as he aims to reach his second quarter-final of the season, after advancing to the last eight in Delray Beach.

The 21-year-old has tasted success on clay before, with his only tour-level title coming on the surface in Parma last year. Meanwhile, Alcaraz became the youngest ATP 500 champion when he captured the trophy on clay in Rio de Janeiro in February.

In a match between two of the most exciting prospects on Tour, Alcaraz and Korda had to demonstrate good footwork to cope with the wind. Korda raced into a 4-2 lead in the first set, however, Alcaraz then started to find his range, rolling off three straight games.

He was twice unable to serve out the set though as Korda returned with great depth before playing the more consistent tennis in the tie-break to lead. Korda then showed his fighting spirit in the second set as he battled back from 0-3 down as both players struggled to find their range from the baseline in a topsy-turvy clash. The American saved three set points on serve at 4-5, leaving another tie-break to decide the set.

Alcaraz demonstrated his recent winning mentality in the tie-break, hanging in rallies and executing drop shots to perfection to level. The cat-and-mouse points continued in the third set, with both looking to drag each other around the court with deft touches. The match remained finely poised until deep into the deciding set, when Korda broke to move 5-3 ahead. The American then served out to triumph.

Albert Ramos-Vinolas continued his clay-court dominance over World No. 10 Cameron Norrie as he emerged a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4 winner from an engrossing battle of the lefties on Court des Princes.

The Spaniard had won all three of his previous meetings with Norrie on the red dirt and withstood a fierce comeback from the Brit to make it four from four and clinch his eighth Top 10 win in two hours, 31 minutes.

The pair’s previous clash on clay was a three-set thriller in the final of the 2021 Millennium Estoril Open, and just as on that occasion it was Ramos-Vinolas who found something extra to prevail at the death.

Ramos-Vinolas feels at home in Monte Carlo. The Spaniard reached his sole Masters 1000 championship match at the event in 2017 and he will pose a big threat to his third-round opponent, who will be either Spaniard Pedro Martinez or World No. 14 Hubert Hurkacz.

Another seeded player to fall on Wednesday was Lorenzo Sonego, who was beaten 6-4, 6-4 by Serb Laslo Djere.

Sonego had dropped just two games on his way to victory in the pair’s previous meeting in Rio de Janeiro in February but could not produce a repeat performance in Monaco. Djere’s first-round win over Karen Khachanov was his first in three appearances in Monte Carlo and the World No. 62 will now face defending champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round.

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