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Carlos Alcaraz cruises, Lorenzo Musetti keeps run alive at Paris

Sportsnaut
Sep 2, 2021; Flushing, NY, USA; Lorenzo Musetti of Italy hits a shot against Reilly Opelka of the United States in a second round match on day four of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain needed just 72 minutes to defeat Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov 6-1, 6-3 and advance to the quarterfinals of the Rolex Paris Masters on Thursday in France.

Alcaraz saved three of four break points while converting five of seven break-point opportunities against Dimitrov. Both players finished with 16 total winners, but Dimitrov committed 24 unforced errors compared to just six for Alcaraz.

“At the end of the second set, it was tougher for me,” Alcaraz said. “(Dimitrov) came back, he raised the level and obviously it was tough. He had the chance to go up in the second set, I had to stay calm in that moment and show my best to not allow him to go up.”

While Alcaraz cruised, the next highest-seeded player in action Thursday bowed out. Italy’s Lorenzo Musetti stormed back to beat Norwegian third seed Casper Ruud 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.

Musetti previously beat 15th seed Marin Cilic of Croatia and Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia. Against Ruud, Musetti won 43 of his 56 first-service points (76.8 percent).

Next up, Musetti will face No. 6 seed Novak Djokovic. The Serbian won his 11th straight match by taking down Russian Karen Khachanov 6-4, 6-1.

Djokovic, the event’s defending champion, called Musetti “definitely a much-improved play” on hard courts.

“He’s so talented,” Djokovic said. “He’s got everything in his game. He can play in the court, he can defend well, he’s got great movement, but I know his game well and I’m looking forward to a good challenge.”

Denmark’s Holger Rune upset No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev of Russia 6-4, 7-5. Rune saved all six points he faced and won 30 of his 40 first-service points (75 percent). Rune will draw Alcaraz in the quarterfinals.

No. 5 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas topped French qualifier Corentin Moutet 6-3, 7-6 (3). Moutet saved five of six break points, but he never brought Tsitsipas to a break point. Moutet held a 31-24 edge in winners but also committed 10 unforced errors to Tsitsipas’ eight.

Canadian eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime defeated French wild card Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-3. It marked Simon’s final match after previously announcing his intention to retire at the end of the season.

Simon was grateful to reach the third round while playing on his home soil — and to retire on his own terms, not forced out by past injuries.

“I just feel so lucky to have been a tennis player. It’s what I have always wanted to be,” Simon said after the match. “I was a professional tennis player for a long time, and that’s why I was lucky twice and I could stop when I wanted, and so I have been lucky three times.”

Two Americans remained alive in the tournament. No. 16 seed Frances Tiafoe got by Australian Alex de Minaur 6-3, 7-6 (5). Tommy Paul, a day after upsetting Spanish star Rafael Nadal, took down Nadal’s countryman and 14th seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-4, 6-4.

Tiafoe will face Auger-Aliassime in the quarters while Paul will face Tsitsipas.

–Field Level Media