Alcaraz fixed major issue to beat Evans after struggling to ‘control himself’

Carlos Alcaraz overcame challenges with his mentality to defeat Dan Evans at the Shanghai Masters on Monday, branding the match one of the “toughest” he’s played outside of a Grand Slam. Last week, the world No 2 said he went out of his mind during a loss to Jannik Sinner and Alcaraz later admitted it was difficult to control himself when it came to his mental toughness. But the Spaniard said the key to his straight-set win over Evans was his ability to stay strong mentally.

Alcaraz had outlined his mentality as one of his main issues ahead of the Shanghai Masters, admitting that it was difficult to manage that side of his game. But the 20-year-old was able to fix the problem during a match as he beat Evans 7-6(1) 6-4 in a marathon match, with the first set lasting 88 minutes.

“I think staying strong mentally was the key to be able to win this match, because I had a lot of opportunities that I missed them, all of them,” the two-time Grand Slam champion said after the match. 

“It would be easy to be out mentally, you know, and I think I stayed strong in that part, and keep going, waiting my chances and trying to play, you know, my best in every moment, I think that was the key.”

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Addressing the match as a whole, Alcaraz added: “It was one of the toughest matches that I’ve played this year, outside the Grand Slam. I don’t know. I had to stay strong mentally, physically, but I think that this match is, I won this match because strong mentally and strong physically.”

The top seed has already shown that he can go “out” mentally as he suffered a collapse in the second set of his match against Jannik Sinner at last week’s China Open. The world No 4 beat Alcaraz 7-6(4) 6-1 and the Spaniard confessed that he became angry with himself in the second set.

Addressing his struggles with mentality ahead of the Shanghai Masters, Alcaraz later told Tennis TV: “I always say that mentally is the toughest part to practice but at the same time it’s the most important thing if you want to be the best in tennis.

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“I’m trying to work in every practice, in every tournament that I go [to], learn from the things that probably I was not doing great. For example, the last match against Jannik I said that I [was] out of my mind in the second set so this is something that I have to work on I’m trying not to happen the next time. I want to be the best so I have to practice mentally to be strong enough to play at the same level and don’t have up-and-downs.”

Asked whether he found the mental side tough to control, he responded: “It’s difficult to control yourself most of the time. So it’s for me, difficult yeah.” But Alcaraz has already learned from his mistakes and managed to hang in there against Evans, coming back from a break down in both sets. The world No 2 will now hope to keep his momentum and his mental toughness going into his next match as he takes on Grigor Dimitrov for a spot in the quarter-final.

With the Shanghai Masters being staged for the first time since 2019, Alcaraz is making his debut at the tournament and is bidding to pick up the title on his first attempt. His mental toughness will be key to lifting the trophy and having a strong end to the season as he eyes the year-end No 1 ranking.

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