Carlos Alcaraz finishes with flourish in 1st round at Australian Open

League: Tennis

Posted on: 16 Jan, 2024 at 03:49 PM

Credit: Taya Gray / USA TODAY NETWORK

Second-seeded Carlos Alcaraz followed up a difficult first set with two easy ones to dispatch Frenchman Richard Gasquet in their opening-round match on Tuesday at the Australian Open.

Alcaraz, 20, required 72 minutes to win the first set before needing 70 more minutes to finish the other two in a 7-6 (5), 6-1, 6-2 victory over the 37-year-old Gasquet.

"It's always great to play here in Australia," the Spaniard said in his on-court interview. "This is the third time that I'm playing here. I didn't have a good run the years that I played here, but I enjoyed it a lot and I missed it last year. Today I felt really good playing here, and I enjoyed in front of the crowd.

"I tried to get better. I think in the first set I struggled a little bit with his game and Richard was playing great as well. Every set, I played better and better, and in the end, I think I played quite a good level."

Alcaraz recorded 53 winners to set up a second-round match versus Italian Lorenzo Sonego, who overcame a first-set misstep in a 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-2, 7-6 (4) victory over Dan Evans of Great Britain.

Sixth-seeded Alexander Zverev also dropped the first set of his first-round match versus fellow German Dominik Koepfer before posting a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 6-3 victory.

"You've got to focus on yourself, your own shots," Zverev said.

Also on Tuesday, eighth-seeded Holger Rune of Denmark and 23rd-seeded Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria needed four sets to dispatch their respective foes. Rune posted a 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 6-4 decision over Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka, while Dmitrov notched a 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (1), 6-2 win over Marton Fucsovics of Hungary.

"It's tough but it's always exciting to start the first round," Rune said in his on-court interview. "The conditions were hot and dry, so it was difficult to find the right pace. The ball was fast. But again, it was great to start with a match like this."

Fourteenth-seeded Tommy Paul cruised to a 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 win over Frenchman Gregoire Barrere.

On the upset front, Indian qualifier Sumit Nagal outlasted 31st-seeded Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan, 6-4, 6-2, 7-6 (5).

--Field Level Media