There was a festive atmosphere, farewell at the Manolo Santana Stadium. Marc López was a couple with Carlos Alcaraz in what, predictably, was going to be the last game of the Catalan’s long career, who has decided to retire at the end of his participation in the Mutua Madrid Open. In front, two specialists in doubles like the Polish Lukasz Kubot (two-time Grand Slam champion) and Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin (winner of a Grand Slam). However, the Murcian was in charge of displaying all his talent to give López one more joy before saying goodbye.
“It was a weird game. I’m not in shape, as you can see”Marc joked at the end of the meeting. At 39 years old, this was only the third game he had played for Olympic gold so far in 2022, something that was noticeable on the track. Before that, Carlos Alcaraz put the weight of the couple on his back, despite having almost no experience in doubles. It was difficult to get into the match, and the Spanish couple lost the first set 6-4.
The second set began with a new loss of service by the local couple, who despite the 3-0 draw did not stop smiling. López and Alcaraz enjoyed themselves on the track at all times, transferring that joy to a devoted public. That mix resulted in a great show, with the Spaniards coming back from a break down and winning the second set tiebreak. The Murcian gave a real recital: Winning remains, unappealable serves, unattainable shots… Giving the impression of being quite the doubles specialist, Alcaraz took control of the super tie-break, in which they quickly took a comfortable lead to close out the victory. Ovation of the fans for Marc López, who will play at least one more game (in front of the couple formed by the Dutch Wesley Koolhof and the British Neal Skupski, eighth seeds) before retiring, and especially for Carlos Alcaraz, which gave a show in a game that was presented without much history. At 18 years old and waiting to debut in the singles draw on Tuesday, the Murcian is already a star in Madrid and he has the audience of the Caja Mágica in his pocket.
How special is Carlos Alcaraz. What victory has he given to Marc López to postpone his withdrawal in front of a Caja Mágica surrendered to an 18-year-old boy #MMOPEN pic.twitter.com/BNZV14k2zX
— Jaime Davila (@JaimeDavila_) May 1, 2022
“Learning from Marc is a spectacle”
With the tribute to Marc López postponed to another day, the Catalan and Alcaraz spoke about the track after certifying the victory. “Playing at home is something special, today the track had incredible weather, I appreciate living these sensations again. I thank Carlos for wanting to play with me. The last match, the later the better. Nobody takes it from me todayvery happy to have passed the round and wanting to play one more game here”, said Marc.
“When Marc told me that he would be excited to play with me, I said that the pleasure is mine, I should have asked him, but I didn’t dare. Learning from him and sharing the track is a show”, declared Carlos Alcaraz before receiving a final ovation from the Madrid crowd.