London: Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz fired a Wimbledon warning as he comfortably beat Alex de Minaur 6-4 6-4 to claim the Queen’s Club title on Sunday and return to world No 1.
In baking temperatures, the 20-year-old had too much firepower for his wily Australian opponent as he claimed his first grasscourt title in impressive fashion.
It was only Alcaraz’s third tournament on grass, but the way he marched through the draw augurs well for his prospects at Wimbledon, where he will be seeded No 1.
De Minaur, the first Australian to reach the London final since Lleyton Hewitt in 2006, had chances for a break of serve when leading 4-3 in the opening set but could not take them.
Alcaraz then broke serve in the following game before wrapping up the set on serve.
De Minaur double-faulted to hand over a service game early in the second set and there was no way the muscular Spaniard was going to pass up the opportunity to notch his fifth title of 2023.
Alcaraz is the fourth Spanish player to win the prestigious pre-Wimbledon tournament and will now hope to emulate Rafa Nadal who triumphed at Queen’s in 2008 before going on to win Wimbledon for the first time a few weeks later.
“So many legends have won here so to see my name on the trophy surrounded by great champions, it’s amazing,” reigning US Open champion Alcaraz said on court.
While Novak Djokovic remains the favourite to retain his Wimbledon title, Alcaraz will be the top seed at the tournament, where he reached the fourth round last year.
The way he has taken to grass, winning 10 sets in succession after losing his first of the week at Queen’s, should make him a serious contender at the All England Club.
Lot of energy
“I started the week not too well, but I adapted my movement and I ended the week with a lot of energy,” he said.
As well as Nadal, several other players in recent times have gone on to win Wimbledon after conquering Queen’s Club, including Andy Murray in 2013 and 2016, Pete Sampras in 1995 and 1999, and Lleyton Hewitt in 2002. Boris Becker, then a teenager, also did the double in 1985 as a teenager.
Even 22-time Grand Slam champion Nadal took a while to adapt his game to grass, but the speed at which Alcaraz has looked at ease on the surface is astonishing.
De Minaur is one of the craftiest lawn players in the world but he could do nothing as Alcaraz showed great lawn skills, notably an impressive sliced backhand when required and a confidence around the net.
His forehand, meanwhile, was simply devastating, regularly clocking 90mph and drawing gasps from the crowd.