Alcaraz eases injury concerns with dominant early display at Roland Garros

Published May 27, 2024
Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz Garfia plays a forehand return to the US’ Jeffrey John Wolf during their men’s singles match on day one of the French Open at the Roland Garros Complex on Sunday. — AFP
Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz Garfia plays a forehand return to the US’ Jeffrey John Wolf during their men’s singles match on day one of the French Open at the Roland Garros Complex on Sunday. — AFP
Jeffrey John Wolf of the US plays a forehand return against Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz Garfia during their French Open match on Court Philippe-Chatrier at the Roland Garros Complex on Sunday.
—AFP
Jeffrey John Wolf of the US plays a forehand return against Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz Garfia during their French Open match on Court Philippe-Chatrier at the Roland Garros Complex on Sunday. —AFP

PARIS: Carlos Alcaraz eased into the second round of the French Open after shrugging off pre-tournament concerns about his forearm while fellow seeds Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz advanced with hard-fought wins as the Grand Slam began on Sunday.

Much of the focus was on title contender Alcaraz’s recently injured right forearm in the build-up to the year’s second major, with the 21-year-old Spaniard saying he still had worries ahead of his clash with American JJ Wolf.

But cheered on by the Philippe Chatrier crowd, the two-time Grand Slam champion, who skipped three of the four tune-up events he planned to participate in, thumped the lucky loser 6-1, 6-2, 6-1.

“I’m really happy to be back here in Paris and competing again. It’s been a difficult month for me […] I love playing tennis,” third seed Alcaraz said. “To stay away from that was hurting me. I tried everything I could to be at 100 per cent in Roland Garros to show my best. I think I did it today.”

Madrid champion and sixth seed Rublev was pushed hard by Japan’s Taro Daniel before securing a 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-5 victory, while Polish eighth seed Hurkacz was dragged the distance by another Japanese player in Shintaro Mochizuki.

Hurkacz returned from a rain break to seal a 4-6, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3 victory.

French hopes of a first men’s champion since Yannick Noah’s triumph over four decades ago were dampened somewhat earlier as their number one player and 17th seed Ugo Humbert crashed to a 6-4, 2-6, 6-4, 6-3 defeat by Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Meanwhile, German Maximilian Marterer, ranked 99, comfortably moved into the next round as he defeated Jordan Thompson of Australia 6-3, 6-2, 6-0, while Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov beat Aleksander Kovacevic of the US 6-4, 6-3, 6-4.

In the women’s fixtures on Sunday, four-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka and 2017 winner Jelena Ostapenko also advanced before rain interrupted play, but the action continued on Suzanne Lenglen with a new retractable roof inaugurated earlier in the day deployed immediately.

Osaka’s reward for a battling 6-1, 4-6, 7-5 win over Italian Lucia Bronzetti could be a meeting with defending champion Iga Swiatek in the next round. Top seed Swiatek, chasing a fourth French Open, will face Osaka if the Pole gets past qualifier Leolia Jeanjean on Monday.

Ostapenko continued her strong season by beating Romania’s Jaqueline Cristian 6-4 7-5.

Russian Maria Timofeeva crashed out of the event after losing against experienced Chinese Wang Yafan 6-3, 6-3. Wang, 30, will next face Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, who downed Australian Ajla Tomljanovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-3, on Monday.

Croatian Donna Vekic benefited from the abandonment of Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine (6-5) on Sunday and will now face another Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk in the second round.

Kostyuk dropped a set against Brazil’s Laura Pigossi but was able to power through 7-5, 6-7(4-7), 6-4 after a hard-fought match.

Maria Bouzkova of the Czech Republic was also among the winners on Sunday as she cruised past Russia’s Veronika Kudermetova 6-2, 6-4 and next will be up against Croatia’s Jana Fett, who defeated Spaniard Jessica Bouzas Maneiro 6-2, 3-6, 7-5, on Wednesday.

American Sofia Kenin came from a set down to beat German Laura Seigmund 4-6, 6-2, 6-2.

Earlier, thousands of spectators made their way through the gates, with their panama hats and sunglasses put to good use in the bright afternoon sunshine before the umbrellas came out.

With fit-again 14-time champion Rafa Nadal back in Paris but only playing fourth seed Alexander Zverev on Monday, they gathered in large numbers to see Alcaraz showcase his skills.

“I really want to see an American go far but I think Alcaraz is going to follow in Nadal’s footsteps,” said Jake, an American fan from New York attending his first French Open.

“He’s from Spain and he’s been playing really good in the different tournaments he’s been in. He’s won the US Open, he’s won Wimbledon and I think he’s coming for the French Open.”

Published in Dawn, May 27th, 2024

Opinion

Editorial

Kindness needed
Updated 20 Jun, 2024

Kindness needed

This year’s World Refugee Day theme — solidarity with refugees — includes keeping our borders accessible and addressing the hurdles they face.
Fitch’s budget note
20 Jun, 2024

Fitch’s budget note

PAKISTAN’S ongoing economic crisis is multifaceted. At one end, the government must pursue stabilisation policies...
Cruelty to animals
20 Jun, 2024

Cruelty to animals

TWO recent incidents illustrate the immense cruelty many in this country subject voiceless animals to. In the first...
Price bombs
Updated 18 Jun, 2024

Price bombs

It just wants to take the easy route and enjoy the ride for however long it is in power.
Palestine’s plight
Updated 17 Jun, 2024

Palestine’s plight

While the faithful across the world are celebrating with their families, thousands of Palestinian children have either been orphaned, or themselves been killed by the Israeli aggressors.
Profiting off denied visas
Updated 19 Jun, 2024

Profiting off denied visas

The staggering rejection rates underscore systemic biases in the largely non-transparent visa approval process.