London: Before Wimbledon got under way, Carlos Alcaraz complained that the hardest thing about playing on grass was moving on the slippery surface but judging by his first two rounds at Wimbledon, the Spaniard has taken to it like a duck to water.
Once tipped as a claycourt specialist, Alcaraz proved his mettle on hardcourts earlier this year when he won the Miami Open but he had no match practice on grass after skipping the Wimbledon tune-up at Queen’s Club due to an elbow issue.
But he has advanced to the third round at the All England Club for the first time in his career and the 19-year-old can consider himself one of the favourites with the men’s field decimated by bans, injuries, illnesses and some early upsets.
The youngest man in the draw survived a five-set encounter in the first round before cruising past the second round with a straight-set win over Tallon Griekspoor. He will next face 32nd seed Oscar Otte of Germany.
Lightning quick on court movement
Along the way, he showed that his speed was not impeded by the lush, green grass, often sprinting from one end of the court to the other to fire winners, making everyone marvel at his lightning quick on-court movement.
“I felt more comfortable [against Griekspoor] than the first round. But obviously, as I said, I need more hours on court, on grass, to feel more comfortable,” Alcaraz said.
“I feel comfortable playing on Court Two. Obviously the first round was with the roof. It was really, really different, different court. I felt slow this match than the first round, I would say it was totally different.
“The crowd is amazing. Of course, playing on grass is so beautiful for me… I like (to) play on grass and I enjoy playing here in Wimbledon.”
Third seed Ons Jabeur is another player who has fallen in love with grasscourts as she cruised into the third round having dropped only eight games so far.
No stopping from dreaming
“I love grass. I love playing here. I don’t look at the draw much, but I know who’s on my side obviously,” said Jabeur, who next faces former junior world No 1 Diane Parry.
“I am slow and sometimes I start things slow. My game is not the same game as other players, so that’s why it was more difficult for me to adapt.”
Jabeur has had a breakthrough season where she has shot up to world No 2 and even though Wimbledon had its ranking points stripped, it has not stopped the Tunisian from dreaming.
“I don’t like to focus on the negative things,” she added. “If I win this, I’ll be the only player to win a Grand Slam without points!”