Carlos Alcaraz advanced to the second round of the French Open on Monday, defeating Italian Flavio Cobolli 6-0, 6-2, 7-5.
Alcaraz, 20, is the youngest top seed in a Grand Slam in Paris since then-19-year-old Bjorn Borg in 1976.
In his first encounter, the Spaniard showed no signs of jitters, precisely timing his crisp groundstrokes to dominate the 21-year-old qualifier Cobolli in the baseline exchanges.
Even though he had trouble crossing the finish line in the end, the top seed hit some fantastic shots as he sprinted to a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 triumph.
“It is great to play here. It is my first time on Suzanne-Lenglen and I enjoyed playing here,” Alcaraz said. “There was such great energy from the crowd and I came out with a great level.”
In the absence of his countryman Nadal, Spaniard Alcaraz is the favourite to win the championship and will play Novak Djokovic in the semifinals should both superstars reach the last four.
The 20-year-old has had a successful clay-court season, winning the Madrid and Barcelona Opens, but his most recent match in Rome ended in an unexpected loss to Fabian Marozsan, a player ranked outside the top 100.
On Court Suzanne Lenglen, however, there was no such error as he won the first eight games of the match.
Alcaraz finally extended his record of never losing in the opening round of a Slam to nine appearances, despite Cobolli settling down and even saving four match points in the third set and breaking the Spaniard when he first served for the match.
“It is not too good when losing your serve at 5-4,” Alcaraz said. “But I had to overcome that and forget that. I think I forgot it really quick and I played a great level from 5-5.”
After winning the US Open last year, the Spaniard is vying for his second Grand Slam title victory in Paris. In the second round, he will go up against Taro Daniel, who defeated Australian Christopher O’Connell by a scoreline scores of 6-0, 6-2, 6-4.
Alcaraz, who competed in the 2022 quarterfinals, increased his season record to 31-3 with his hour-and-58-minute triumph over the young Italian.
This year, he has won four tour-level titles, including the ATP Masters 1000 titles at Indian Wells and Madrid.
Cobolli, who advanced to the main draw of a Grand Slam for the first time via qualifying, was a game opponent. The World No. 159, who is eighth in the ATP Next Gen Race, met a Top 10 opponent for the first time but struggled to handle the qorld No 1’s all-court style.
While he occasionally hit his forehand effectively he wasn’t able to halt the momentum Alcaraz gathered.
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