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Alcaraz nears Queen’s crown

PHOTOGRAPH COURTESY OF QUEEN’S CLUB | CARLOS Alcaraz inches closer to his first title on grass surface after booking a 6-3, 6-4 win over Sebastian Korda in the semifinal of the Queen’s Club tournament.

LONDON, United Kingdom (AFP) — Carlos Alcaraz moved to the brink of his first grass court title and reclaiming the No. 1 ranking from Novak Djokovic after sweeping aside Sebastian Korda to reach the final at Queen’s Club on Saturday, admitting he felt like a 10-year veteran on the surface.

The 20-year-old Spaniard came through 6-3, 6-4 and will face Australia’s Alex de Minaur, who beat second seed Holger Rune 6-3, 7-6 (7/2), in Sunday’s final.

Playing in just his third grass court tournament, Alcaraz has adapted quickly to the conditions after a tough first round clash against French lucky loser Arthur Rinderknech.

The US Open champion had to recover from a slow start as he was broken for the only time in the opening game.

But Korda was let down by double faults at key moments as Alcaraz broke back immediately and edged a tight first set after breaking again in the eighth game.

The second set was more straightforward for Alcaraz who broke to love in the third game and comfortably served it out.

“I’m playing great, I’m feeling great,” said Alcaraz, adding that this was the best performance of his short career on the grass to date.

“I’m really happy to play here in Queen’s. Since the first match, I have felt the love from the crowd.”

A fifth title of the year would take Alcaraz back above Djokovic, who won their semifinal battle at the French Open earlier this month, at the top of the world rankings.

It will also give him top seeding at Wimbledon which gets underway on 3 July.

“Right now, I feel like I’ve been playing for 10 years on grass, it’s something crazy for me,” added Alcaraz who will be aiming for an 11th career title.

“I didn’t expect to adapt my movement, my game so fast on grass. I’m really happy with that.”

Alcaraz’s win against world No. 32 Korda also improved his record to 27-1 against players outside the top 20 this season.

He has reached at least the semi-finals in eight of the nine tournaments he’s played in this year.

‘I’m playing great, I’m feeling great.’

De Minaur continued his fine form in London as world number six Rune was no match for the big-serving Aussie.

The world No. 18 ended Andy Murray’s renaissance on the grass in the first round and is eyeing a second grass court title after winning in Eastbourne in 2021.

“I love being here and playing on this court in front of this amazing crowd,” De Minaur said.

“I am having a good week and this was my best performance of the week.”

Alcaraz defeated De Minaur in their only meeting so far, an epic semi-final duel on clay in Barcelona last year.

In a three-hour, 40-minute battle, Alcaraz saved two match points in a 6-7 (4/7), 7-6 (7/4), 6-4 victory en route to the title.

“It’s going to be a big challenge for me. His game is really good on grass,” Alcaraz said of the Australian’s challenge.

“He serves so flat. He’s going to be very dangerous here on grass. But I think about myself, I’m thinking about my game.”

“I will try to put my game in the match. I will try not to think about the opponent. Just enjoy the final, enjoy playing here and let’s see what happens.”

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