CINCINNATI: Carlos Alcaraz withstood a string of frustrating rain delays to beat Tommy Paul 7-6 (8/6), 6-7 (7/0) 6-3 on Thursday, avenging a loss to the American last week and reaching the quarterfinals of the ATP/WTA Cincinnati Open.
Paul was unable to repeat his sensational upset of the world No. 1 from last Friday in Toronto, where he stunned the Spaniard in the quarterfinals.
Alcaraz had squandered three match points before the first of a string of rain delays that forced players off and on the court in a logistics ballet that finally ended after more than three hours.
But he held on to book a quarterfinal meeting with Australian Max Purcell, a 6-4, 6-2 winner over Swiss Stan Wawrinka.
After the final rain pause, Alcaraz, up a break in the third, came out and finished off the final few points, advancing with 40 winners and 61 unforced errors.
“I really wanted to win after what happened against him last week.
Alcaraz is into his fifth Masters 1000 quarterfinal this season and his 11th overall. He improved to 21-3 in the elite series this season, standing 51-5 overall.
Alcaraz applied the pressure and brought out the best of his big game to tame Paul in a contest first interrupted at 4-3 in the deciding set by the weather.
The top seed came back from a break down four times in the first two sets, but he couldn’t put it away when he had three opportunities in the 12th game of the second set.
The 15-minute game saw Paul launch his fightback. He then dominated the tiebreaker, winning the last nine points of the set to square the contest after two and a half hours.
A brief rain pause after the fifth game became a full-fledged suspension with Alcaraz up a break and serving at 4-3.
A frustrating stop-start scenario saw the court dried and players warmed up only for rain to start again.
“All of the starting and stopping was not easy,” Alcaraz said. “I handled the waiting well.
“I’m happy with my level and pleased to be in the quarter-finals. I feel my game is getting better and better.”
Alexander Zverev won a battle of former champions over third-seeded Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 5-7, 6-4.
The 16th-seeded German, who missed the second half of last season with a serious ankle injury, won his eighth consecutive Cincinnati match dating to his 2021 title run.
“It was such a difficult time for me last year,” said Zverev, the recent Hamburg clay champion. “I couldn’t walk and couldn’t play.
“It’s moments like this that make it all so special.”
Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas also lost, 6-3, 6-4 to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.
In the WTA draw, world No. 1 Iga Swiatek changed her dress after losing the opening set and came back a new woman, defeating China’s Zheng Qinwen 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
“My coach told me a few weeks ago it might be a good idea to change clothes and reset,” the Pole said.
“I tried it and it worked, I got a different vibe in the second set — thank you, coach.”
Swiatek, who has spent 72 weeks on the top WTA ranking, called out what she termed “haters” on the Internet who criticize her every time she loses a set.
“I feel it would be such a better place if we didn’t judge each other so quickly,” she said. “The amount of hate and criticism that me and my team get after even losing a set is just ridiculous.”
Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova beat Sloane Stephens 7-5, 6-3 to reach the quarter-finals of an event in which she was 0-3 in prior appearances.
“It has been really special this week. I came here not knowing how I would play,” she said. “It’s such a pleasure to be back as Wimbledon champion.”
Third-seeded Jessica Pegula, last week’s Montreal winner, was defeated in a match which concluded in light drizzle, losing 6-4, 6-0 to Marie Bouzkova. Fourth seed Elena Rybakina joined number eight Maria Sakkari in exiting.
Rybakina, last year’s Wimbledon champion retired at 6-4, 2-5 against Italian qualifier Jasmine Paulini while Sakkari went down 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 to Czech Karolina Muchova.
Croatia’s Donna Vekic was forced to retire with viral illness, handing a 5-2 decision to fifth seed and three-time Grand Slam finalist Ons Jabeur.