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‘Tapping early?’: Teen tennis sensation Carlos Alcaraz accused of ‘surrender’ after US Open injury retirement

‘Tapping early?’: Teen tennis sensation Carlos Alcaraz accused of ‘surrender’ after US Open injury retirement

Spanish starlet Carlos Alcaraz was accused of “tapping out” as his remarkable run at the US Open came to an end when he retired in the second set of his quarter-final clash with Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Having become the youngest men’s player in the Open era to reach the last eight at Flushing Meadows, 18-year-old Alcaraz was flagging against his Canadian rival at 3-6 1-3 down before pulling out with a thigh injury.

“I had no choice,” said Alcaraz, who had dumped out Greek number three seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on his remarkable run to the quarter-final.   

“First of all I have to take care of my body. I didn't feel good to still play, so I had to retire.”

In the current climate of young sports stars having their fortitude questioned, the withdrawal didn’t seem to sit well with some observers.

That included ESPN pundit Chris Fowler, who tweeted to his 795,000 followers that it had been a “sudden surrender” by the Spaniard.

“Very disappointing ending to a strong run by Carlos Alcaraz,” Fowler added.

“Was being outplayed by [Auger-Aliassime] and looked low on energy but to tap early in a major QF? Certainly hope it won’t be a pattern for an 18-year-old with much talent.”

The tweet split opinion online, with one person referring to the epic women’s battle earlier in the tournament in which 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu fought for three sets before losing to Maria Sakkari, despite an apparent injury.

“Someone should show Alcatraz the 3rd set of Sakkari-Andreescu Match; Bianca fought hard on one leg, never a hint of giving up,” read the comment.

Others disagreed though, telling Fowler to “be better” and consider the likes of Naomi Osaka, whose efforts at Flushing Meadows this year ended in tears as the Japanese star revealed she was considering taking another break from tennis.

“Really disappointing tweet here from Fowler. It’s the kind of press that churns and burns young players a la [Osaka]. Be better.”

“Was he being outplayed because he was injured? Or exhausted?” added another.  

“Would you rather he played until he was falling down on court? Retiring is better for AA – now he gets some rest. You’ve really turned into the conspiracy theory tennis commentator during this US Open. It’s annoying.”

Another person fumed: “Sudden surrender? You wouldn't even last one set out there, Alcaraz played two five setters back to back. No wonder Naomi is tired of people like you.”

The debate echoes a similar row which broke out at Wimbledon earlier this year.

On that occasion, UK pundit Piers Morgan questioned the mental resilience of Brit teen sensation Emma Raducanu after she withdrew from her fourth-round match citing breathing difficulties.

Raducanu has since bounced back in spectacular fashion, being among a crop of teenage stars to make their mark in New York, where she plays in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.

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John McEnroe and Piers Morgan both commented on Emma Raducanu's retirement at Wimbledon. © Reuters
‘Toughen up’: Morgan backs McEnroe as he scolds Brit teen star Raducanu for retiring at Wimbledon with ‘breathing difficulties’

One teen already into the semi-finals is women's star Leylah Fernandez of Canada, who continued her shock run with a three-set win over Ukrainian fifth seed Elina Svitolina.

Fernandez, 19, is the youngest female star to reach the last four in New York since Maria Sharapova did so in 2005.  

Back in the men’s draw, Auger-Aliassime will now face Daniil Medvedev in the semi-finals, after the Russian second seed pushed past Dutch qualifier Botic van de Zandschulp in four sets in their quarter-final on Tuesday.    

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