The 18-year-old has been on a steady climb up the FedEx ATP Rankings in 2021. He entered Umag as the seventh seed – his first appearance as a seeded player at a tour-level event – and one spot shy of his career-high of World No. 72. With the victory over Martin, he has amassed a 12-10 record on the season, highlighted by a run to the semi-finals in Marbella in April.
Building ‘A Perfect Wall’ Brick By Brick: Alcaraz’s Physical Evolution
He was made to work by 31-year-old Slovakian Martin, who raced to an early lead on Goran Ivanisevic Stadion – as the court’s namesake, who was recently inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, watched on from the stands. Martin took a 3-1 lead with an early break as Alcaraz, who sported heavy taping on his right arm and elbow, needed a few games to settle into the match. But once the Spaniard found his footing, there was no looking back.
The 18-year-old raised his level to break straight back, and won five consecutive games from 1-3 to seal the opening set. The same pattern emerged in the second set: Martin took an early lead with a break at 1-0, but Alcaraz never let him race away with it. He responded by winning six games in a row and closing out the victory in an hour and 16 minutes.
Alcaraz will next face third seed Filip Krajinovic, after the Serbian player won 76 per cent (28/37) of first-serve points to defeat Radu Albot 6-4, 6-2. Krajinovic improved to 10-7 in clay-court matches on the season, and booked a spot into his fourth quarter-final of the year.
Second seed Dusan Lajovic also won on Thursday in Umag, needing an hour and 51 minutes to take down Bernabe Zapata Miralles 7-5, 6-4. Lajovic, who also reached the last eight on clay in Hamburg and Belgrade, converted four of his 12 break opportunities en route to victory. He will next face Daniel Altmaier, after the German qualifier upset eighth seed Gianluca Mager with a 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 comeback win.