Carlos Alcaraz has been captured in bizarre scenes involving a ball kid and a mysterious pill at the US Open, in drama reminiscent of Novak Djokovic's infamous 'magic potion' saga. Alcaraz powered his way into the fourth round in New York after an impressive 6-2, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 win against Britain's Dan Evans.
The top-seeded Spaniard looked on track for another easy victory after breezing through his opening two matches without dropping a set. However, the defending champion was made to fight after Evans pulled a set back in the third, but the 20-year-old steadied to set up a showdown with Italy's Matteo Arnaldi in the last-16.
'HORRIBLE TO WATCH': Tennis world in uproar over 'awful' farce
Alcaraz was involved in a curious moment early in the second set when he called for a member of his team to pass him something to deal with an apparent ailment. A member of the Spaniard's entourage could then be seen leaning over a barrier in the stands to pass a ball kid a glass jar that appeared to have one pill in it.
The ball kid collected the jar and raced over to give it to Alcaraz, who was towelling off as he sat in a chair at the side of the court. There's no suggestion that anything untoward had taken place, particularly as the incident unfolded in the open and in front of a packed house inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
That didn't stop the conspiracies from flying in thick and fast on social media, with American commentators referring to the pill as Alcaraz's 'secret stuff' and many fans comparing it to similar sagas involving Djokovic in the past. The 23-time grand slam champion famously referred to a special drink he had concocted for him by a team member in 2020 as his 'magic potion', with many arguing the backlash against Alcaraz has been tame in comparison to what the Serb often faced.
ALCARAZ Team send a Pill 💊 to Alcaraz, during @usopen match against Evans (2023)
Presumably, the Pundits will now Start Asking about Alcaraz's magic 💊, the way they've been asking about Novak magic potion!https://t.co/KSvkGC2THo
— Lily (@Lily23252955) September 2, 2023
Apparently Carlos Alcaraz was a little under the weather yesterday, hence getting these pills today from his team 🤒 pic.twitter.com/Vy0iTHYdHR
— Olly 🎾🇬🇧 (@Olly_Tennis_) September 2, 2023
When Djokovic gets a drink/tablet/supplement from his box - Tennis Twitter is outraged and intimates that he's publicly doping.
Alcaraz gets a jar of pills passed to him from his box and it's like it never happened. Radio silence.🤣🤣
— Perfect Tennis (@perfecttennisuk) September 2, 2023
I find nothing wrong with this. But how do we not call out the hypocrisy in tennis with the reactions another player on tour gets 🤔
— Stefan (@stefan_tennis1) September 2, 2023
Oh the conspiracy theories that would have spun if this was Novak getting a pill and him winning yesterday.
— Bala Gopal (@yoholla_bala87) September 2, 2023
Alcaraz's reward for his victory over Evans is a fourth round match against Arnaldi, the Italian World No. 61 who also knocked off a Brit in 16th seed Cameron Norrie, 6-3 6-4 6-3. "He's a tricky opponent," Alcaraz said of Evans. "We made great points, great shots. A lot of different kinds of situations."
Jack Draper offered British fans hope as he outlasted American wildcard Michael Mmoh 6-4 6-2 3-6 6-3 to book his first trip to a grand slam fourth round. He will face Russian eighth seed Andrey Rublev, who defeated France's Arthur Rinderknech 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, 7-5.
Alex de Minaur cruises into fourth round
Australia's Alex de Minaur joined compatriot Rinky Hijikata in the fourth round after crushing Chilean 23rd seed Nicolas Jarry. The World No.13 took the opening set in less than 30 minutes on his way to a stunning 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 victory.
👿 ➡️ Round 4!
The Aussie moves on! pic.twitter.com/2FNyzz8rGn
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2023
In women's action, Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka pummelled France's Clara Burel 6-1 6-1 to book her spot in the fourth round. The Australian Open winner will next face 13th seed Daria Kasatkina, who beat Belgian qualifier Greet Minnen 6-3 6-4.
American 17th seed Madison Keys bounced back from a set down to defeat Russian Liudmila Samsonova, 14th seed, 5-7 6-2 6-2 to reach the fourth round. She will take on compatriot Jessica Pegula, who beat Elina Svitolina 6-4 4-6 6-2. Pegula, the No 3 seed, is still trying to advance beyond the quarter-finals of a grand slam tournament.
She found herself in a tough test with Svitolina, the Ukrainian No. 26 seed who reached the US Open semi-finals in 2019. It was tied 2-2 in the third set before the 29-year-old from Florida broke serve to start a run of four straight games to win the match.
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