Alcaraz battles on at rain-lashed French Open

Published May 30, 2024
Colombia’s Camila Osorio plays a backhand return to Ons Jabeur of  Tunisia during their French Open match on Court Suzanne-Lenglen at the Roland Garros Complex on Wednesday.—AFP
Colombia’s Camila Osorio plays a backhand return to Ons Jabeur of Tunisia during their French Open match on Court Suzanne-Lenglen at the Roland Garros Complex on Wednesday.—AFP

PARIS: Carlos Alcaraz needed four sets to reach the third round of the French Open on Wedne­sday as persistent rain caused widespread disruption to the tournament.

Alcaraz weathered a third-set blip against world number 176 Jesper de Jong before the Spaniard came through 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 under the roof on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Wimbledon champion Alcaraz arrived in Paris with doubts over his fitness after a right forearm injury sidelined him for almost a month.

After dropping just four games in his Roland Garros opener, third seed Alcaraz looked to be cruising against De Jong, a Dutchman taking part in only his second Grand Slam main draw, but he was ultimately made to work harder than expected.

The 21-year-old Alcaraz was broken five times and hit 47 unforced errors before De Jong, playing his fifth match at the tournament, eventually wilted.

“Every player can cause you trouble,” said Alcaraz. “You have to be focussed in every round, have to play at your best, it doesn’t matter what the ranking is. Jesper has the work and level to break into the top 100.”

Alcaraz goes on to face either American 27th seed Sebastian Korda or South Korea’s Kwon Soon-woo for a place in the last 16.

Former French Open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the last 32 for the sixth straight year with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4 win over Germany’s Daniel Altmaier.

Sofia Kenin, runner-up in 2020, became the first woman through to round three after dispatching French number one Caroline Garcia 6-3, 6-3 as play on all but the main two courts was called off for the day around 1500 GMT.

The action on Court Simonne Mathieu and the other outside courts had been interrupted for five hours since just before midday local time before the decision came to call off 23 singles matches.

Eighth seed Ons Jabeur overcame Colombia’s Camila Osorio in three sets in the other completed second-round tie.

Rain had also put a dampener on proceedings on Tuesday but defending champion Novak Djokovic avoided getting bogged down as his quest for a professional era record-extending 25th Grand Slam title got off to a solid enough start.

It was business-like rather than spectacular for Djokovic in the late match on Court Philippe Chatrier as he shrugged off his recent troubles to sweep to his 93rd career win at the French Open, coming through against 142nd-ranked French wildcard Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 7-6 (7/3), 6-4.

Djokovic, who has advanced to the French Open quarter-finals or better every year since 2010, will face Spain’s 63rd-ranked Roberto Carballes Baena for a place in the last 32.

“It’s a straight-set win. In the moments when it mattered I think I delivered, played a great tiebreak, stayed focused,” Serbian Djokovic, who took his first-round record at Roland Garros to 20-0, told reporters.

“I’m glad that I started the way I started, the way I felt on the court. Comparing to the previous weeks of tournaments I played, I felt good. So I’m moving in a positive direction.”

Denmark’s 13th seed Holger Rune also brought his usual flair to court as he saw off Britain’s Dan Evans in straight sets.

Danish shot-maker Rune’s victory over Dan Evans meant Katie Boulter walked on court later knowing that she was Britain’s last hope of having a singles player in round two. But the 26th seed went down 4-6 7-5 6-4 to Spain’s Paula Badosa.

There was no celebration for Argentine qualifier Roman Andres Burruchaga who has sporting success in the blood.

His father Jorge famously scored the winning goal for Diego Maradona’s Argentina in the 1986 World Cup final against West Germany.

Ranked at 144, the 22-year-old came up short in a three-set loss to experienced Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany.

Elsewhere, Belgium’s David Goffin claimed he was spat at by a spectator and warned that tennis is in danger of descending into the firm grip of “hooligans”.

Goffin said a fan spat chewing gum at him as he defeated French player Giovanni Mpetshi Perricard 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 6-7 (4/7), 6-3 on a raucous Court 14 at Roland Garros.

When the Belgian left the arena, he cupped his ear to all four sides to counter the jeers.

“When you are insulted for three and a half hours, you have to annoy the public a little,” Goffin told Belgian media. “Clearly, it goes too far, it’s total disrespect. It’s becoming like football, soon there will be smoke bombs, hooligans and there will be fights in the stands. It’s ridiculous. Some are there more to make a scene than to set the mood.”

Published in Dawn, May 30th, 2024



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