ATP Tour news: Carlos Alcaraz battles past fiery Fabio Fognini in Rio
The world number two, who claimed his first title of the year on Sunday, came back from a set down to defeat a relentless Fabio Fognini 6-7(5) 6-2 6-4 in an entertaining affair on the clay courts of Rio de Janeiro.
Fognini, a maverick who has a penchant for upsetting big names when the mood takes him, completed a truly remarkable turnaround to win the opening set. Already 0-3 down and facing two break points, the colourful Italian turned up the creativity to produce some wonderful tennis that had the crowd on their feet and line judges chuckling. Even down 5-4 in the tiebreaker, Fognini stormed through the last three points in his own fine style.
But an undeterred Alcaraz rallied in the second set, racing to a 4-0 lead. This time, Fognini had no answer to the Spaniard's speed and deft touch.
Down 3-0 in the final set, the veteran produced some heroics to break back and hold serve, but Alcaraz was too accurate on serve to give him another chance after that, as he comfortably saw out the match.
In the post-match press conference, the teenager gave credit to Fognini, who is 16 years his senior. "It was really tough," quipped the 19-year-old, as per atptour.com. "Both Fabio and I played such a high level, great points, great shots," Alcaraz said post-match, later admitting to feeling tired but ready for more. It's amazing to play these kinds of matches. I would say both players played almost our 100 per cent. "I struggled with my serve a little bit [in the opening set]. I was up with a lot of control of the match. But a lot of breaks of serve in a row,I got a little bit down in that moment and it was tough to come back after that. "But I know that a tennis match is really long. I was going to have my chances to improve the game on my serve and I think I did." Alcaraz - who extended his 2023 record to 6-0 - will next face Dusan Lajovic after the Serbian defeated fellow countryman Laslo Djere 6-2 6-4.
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