Carlos Alcaraz makes statement with Barcelona Open victory
Carlos Alcaraz claimed his third title of the season by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas to retain the Barcelona Open crown.
The Spaniard, who does not turn 20 until next month, was virtually flawless in a 6-3 6-4 victory over second seed Tsitsipas to add to his titles in Buenos Aires and Indian Wells.
Alcaraz remains behind Novak Djokovic in the rankings but, with the Serbian troubled by an elbow problem and out of the Madrid Open and Rafael Nadal struggling to play on clay at all as he battles a hip injury, the teenager could yet go into the French Open as the favourite.
Tsitsipas could find no answer to the all-round brilliance of Alcaraz, who missed the start of the season through injury but has been making up for lost time ever since.
After winning his ninth title, Alcaraz said: “It’s incredible. To feel this energy and lift the trophy in Barcelona in front of my family and friends, and most members of my team are here as well. Playing this level and to lift the trophy in front of them is a good feeling for me.”
Fellow teenager Holger Rune also successfully defended a title on Sunday, the young Dane coming out on top of a topsy-turvy affair against Dutchman Botic Van De Zandschulp at the BMW Open in Munich.
Having fought back in the second set, fourth seed Van De Zandschulp led 5-2 in the decider and served for the match three times but, despite creating four match points, ended up losing 6-4 1-6 7-6 (3).
Rune, who needed treatment for arm and ankle problems in the third set, said: “I was feeling really exhausted but I was fighting until the end and I tried everything I could to come back into the match. We really pushed each other to the limit and I am super happy I defended the title today.”
There was an emotional title in Banja Luka, meanwhile, for Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic, who followed up his upset of countryman Djokovic in the quarter-finals by taking out second seed Andrey Rublev 6-3 4-6 6-4.
Rublev, who won the biggest title of his career in Monte-Carlo last week, fought back from 5-1 down in the decider but 70th-ranked Lajovic held his nerve to clinch his second ATP title four years after his first.
Lajovic said: “I am thrilled and overwhelmed that I did it this week. The last time I was in a final was four years ago and I have been through a lot since then.”
Britain’s Jamie Murray won the doubles title in Banja Luka with New Zealander Michael Venus but Neal Skupski and Dutchman Wesley Koolhof had to settle for the runners-up spot in Barcelona, losing in a deciding tie-break to Argentinian duo Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni.