Carlos Alcaraz sends clear message to Nadal and Medvedev with classy US Open win

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Carlos Alcaraz made a statement as he booked his spot in the second week of the US Open for the second year running. The third seed produced one of the best performances of the tournament to beat home hope Jenson Brooksby 6-3 6-3 6-3 and sent a clear message to rivals Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev, showing he was more than capable of winning the title after winning the last six games in a row.

Alcaraz is defending a deep run at a Grand Slam for the first time, having made the quarter-final a year ago as an 18-year-old ranked outside of the world’s top 50. Returning 12 months later as the third seed, the Spaniard is appearing to have no problem with the pressure on him this time around as he reached the second week for the third straight Major.

It was a fast start for the teenager as he set up a break point in just the fourth game of the match but missed an easy forehand and allowed Brooksby to hold for 2-2. But Alcaraz recovered quickly to break in the next game and raced to a 6-3 lead in what many called the best set of the tournament, hitting 17 winners and winning 93 per cent of his first serve points.

He carried his momentum into set number two, converting his third break point to take an immediate 1-0 lead but played a poor game to get broken for 2-2, hitting two unforced errors. Alcaraz bounced straight back, hitting three winners in one game to regain his break lead, continuing to make a statement with his performance.

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The third seed didn’t need to serve out the set, as he hit three successive winners from 0-15 to set up a double set point on the Brooksby serve, blowing the first but taking a two-set lead courtesy of an error from the American’s racket. But things suddenly went the way of the world No 43 at the beginning of the third as he raised his level while Alcaraz suffered a drop-off, hitting more errors while the 21-year-old was able to up his winner count.

Alcaraz appeared to be in trouble when he went down a double-break at 0-3, but the Spaniard proved that he was a worthy contender as he stormed back, breaking for 1-3 and holding to love as the winners crept back into his game. There was a bizarre brief pause at 3-3 when his shoes broke and the umpire announced that the teenager had to change them, but the worl No 4 stayed focus to continue reeling off the last six games in a row, handing Brooksby a moral bagel to win 6-3 6-3 6-3.

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With the classy display, the five-time title winner finds himself back in the second week of the US Open for the second year in a row, following on from his breakout performance last year in which he upset then-third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in the same round this time 12 months ago.

This time around, Alcaraz is one of the hunted instead of the hunter, and proved why he would be tough to stop in Flushing Meadows after ending the two-hour-and-11-minute match with 46 winners to 34 unforced errors. He now faces the winner of a clash between 2014 champion Marin Cilic and 20th seed Dan Evans, where he will bid to defend his quarter-final run from 2021.

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