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Carlos Alcaraz smiling on court while lifting the cinch Championships trophy
International

Carlos Alcaraz: The journey to a career-first grass court title at the cinch Championships

• 4 MINUTE READ

Reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz has been unveiled as the first name on the 2024 cinch Championships entry list, with the Spaniard set to return to the Queen’s Club to defend his coveted title in June.

The 2023 summer grass court season saw Alcaraz become the eighth man in the Open Era to complete the cinch Championships-Wimbledon double in the same year, joining an elite club of tennis greats including, John McEnroe, Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

Last year’s championships marked only his third tournament on the grass and having confessed to watching YouTube footage of grass court maestro’s, such as Roger Federer and Murray to learn new techniques, it’s safe to say Alcaraz surpassed even his own expectations.

Now, let’s take a look back at that unforgettable run to a maiden cinch Championships trophy, which would eventually prove to be a catalyst for Alcaraz creating history at the All English Lawn Tennis Club just weeks later.

First round: Alcaraz survives early scare against Rinderknech

Going into the tournament with a 4-2-win record on the grass, Alcaraz kick-started his debut campaign with a 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(3) victory over Arthur Rinderknech, which would prove to be the youngster’s toughest challenge of the week.

After losing the opening set, the 20-year-old clawed his way back into the contest to take the second before battling from a break down in the decider to take the tie-break in the deciding set.

From that moment on, the eventual champion would go on to win 10 consecutive sets en route to lifting the silverware.

I have never played a tournament except Wimbledon on grass, and I wanted to play here. I have watched this tournament on TV and I always thought it looked like a beautiful place to play and be. I am enjoying every single second.

Second round: The Spaniard eases past fellow youngster Jiri Lehecka

Two days later, Alcaraz returned to court with a point to prove as he defeated Czech star Jiri Lehecka 6-2, 6-3 in a career-first meeting.

A stark contrast to his opening battle, Alcaraz hit the ground running from the get-go and was rarely tested through the encounter - dominating behind his deadly forehand to wrap up a comprehensive victory in an hour and 25 minutes and punch his ticket to the final eight.

Quarter-final: Alcaraz downs former cinch Championships titlist Dimitrov

2023-Carlos-Alcaraz-cinch-SF.jpg

Up next, Alcaraz battled against 2014 cinch Championships victor Grigor Dimitrov, who had reached the quarter-final stage after coming through qualifiers.

The first seed had visibly grown in confidence since his first-round battle, but a match-up against a more experienced grass court player posed a different threat for Alcaraz. Despite being only his ninth match on the surface, the Spaniard looked at home in West London as he raced to back-to-back straight sets victory against the Bulgarian to propel himself into the semi-finals.

Semi-final: Alcaraz stuns Korda to book ticket to the final

Growing in confidence and form match by match, Alcaraz shone his first semi-final on the grass as he bypassed world No.32 Sebastian Korda 6-3, 6-4 to reach the final.

Despite losing his opening service game, the top seed responded in style as he broke twice to take the opener before hunting down another early break in the second. In true Alcaraz style, the 20-year-old crushed a 101mph forehand across court to bring up two set points before eventually confirming his place in the final showdown.

I came here just to get experience, to get out on court and practising and playing with these kind of players and is a good preparation for Wimbledon. I didn’t expect at the beginning of the week that I’m gonna be in the final and playing such a good level.

Final: A grass-court star is born as Alcaraz clinches maiden title at the Queen’s Club

The championship match saw the two stand-out players of the week battle it out for a first cinch Championships trophy. In what was only his second meeting between the pair, Alcaraz and De Minaur battled from the baseline in a show-stopping final, which saw the Spaniard find a crucial break in each set.

Stepping up to the baseline to serve for the ATP 500 title, the 2022 US Open champion fought back from 0-30 down to eventually secure the crown when the Australian returned a backhand long – winning 6-4, 6-4.

This victory saw Alcaraz become the fourth Spanish player to lift the trophy of the historical Queen’s Club, joining the likes of Feliciano Lopez and Rafael Nadal.

Carlos Alcaraz Wins FIRST Title on Grass! | TAG Heuer Highlights - Final | Cinch Championships
It means a lot to have my name on this trophy. I’ve watched this tournament since I started playing tennis. It’s been really special for me to play here - so many legends have won here and to see my name on that trophy and surrounded by the great champions is amazing.

As they say, the rest is history. After re-claiming his spot at the top of the world rankings, Alcaraz went on to realise a childhood dream when he defeated Novak Djokovic on the prestigious Centre Court at Wimbledon in a five-set epic just three weeks later. This feat saw the Spaniard put an end to Djokovic’s dominance in SW19, with the Serbian having not lost on Centre Court since the 2013 final against Murray.

Alcaraz’s return to the court that hailed him a grass court champion for the first time is set to be one of the in-demand tickets for the British summer swing and one you won’t want to miss out on.

Want to watch the defending champion back in action at the cinch Championships this summer? Sign up to become an Advantage Fan+ or Compete member to unlock priority ticketing access on Tuesday 20 February at 10:00.

How to buy tickets for cinch Championships

If you’re already a Fan+ or Compete Advantage member – log in to your account and head to MyBenefits to get your access code for the priority window.

There’s still time to join Advantage to access the priority window – discover more via the link below.

General sale tickets will be available from Tuesday 27 February at 10:00.

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