Alcaraz sweeps into second round of French Open

Arab trailblazer Ons Jabeur, Dominic Thiem crash out

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Spain's Carlos Alcaraz in action during his first round match against Argentina's Juan Ignacio Londero. — Reuters
Spain's Carlos Alcaraz in action during his first round match against Argentina's Juan Ignacio Londero. — Reuters

By Reuters/AFP

Published: Mon 23 May 2022, 1:01 AM

Spanish teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz advanced to the second round of the French Open on Sunday, defeating Argentine lucky loser Juan Ignacio Londero 6-4, 6-2, 6-0.

Alcaraz, 19, is bidding to become just the eighth teenager to capture a major men's title and widely tipped to end the dominance of 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal and two-time winner Novak Djokovic.

The sixth seed, who reached the third round on his main-draw debut a year ago in Paris, will play compatriot Albert Ramos-Vinolas for a place in the last 32.

"I have been watching this tournament many years. It's a unique place to play and I have been dreaming of playing here," said Alcaraz.

He broke Londero in the 10th game of a tight opening set, then ran away with the match by breaking five more times over the next two sets on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Alcaraz, who was ranked 97 this time last year, has won a tour-leading four titles this season, three coming on clay in Rio, Barcelona and Madrid where he defeated Nadal, Djokovic and Alexander Zverev to lift the trophy.

Meanwhile, German third seed Alexander Zverev produced a clinical performance to kick off his campaign with a 6-2 6-4 6-4 win against Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner.

The 25-year-old Zverev, who reached the semifinals last year at Roland Garros, came to Paris with strong clay-court form behind him, having reached the final in Madrid and making semifinal runs at Monte-Carlo and Rome.

On a balmy evening he dominated proceedings from the start on Court Suzanne Lenglen against his opponent, ranked 218th in the world.

Zverev did not face a single breakpoint on his own serve while breaking Ofner twice in the opening set and once in each of the next two, and he closed out the contest in an hour and 49 minutes with his 13th ace.

He will next face the winner of the match between Serbian Dusan Lajovic and Sebastian Baez of Argentina.

Meanwhile, Arab trailblazer Ons Jabeur crashed out at the first hurdle. Sixth seed Jabeur, seen as a potential champion, despite never having previously got past the fourth round, lost 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 to Poland’s 56th-ranked Magda Linette.

Jabeur came into the event with a season-leading 17 wins on clay in 2022, the prestigious Madrid title under her belt and a runners-up spot to world number one Iga Swiatek in Rome.

However, she was undone by 47 unforced errors in the two hour 28-minute match.

Also making a premature exit was 2016 champion and 10th seed Garbine Muguruza, beaten 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 by Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi, the oldest woman in the tournament who came back from a set and break down.

Two-time runner-up Dominic Thiem, whose ranking has slipped to 194 after a lengthy battle with a wrist injury, was another early casualty, losing 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 to 87th-ranked Hugo Dellien of Bolivia. Thiem, the 2020 US Open champion, has yet to win a match in six attempts since his return in March.

He has now lost 10 tour-level matches in a row. His last victory came in Rome just over a year ago.

The 28-year-old Austrian, a former world number three, reached at least the quarterfinals at Roland Garros five years running from 2016 to 2020.

He finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in 2018 and 2019.

“It’s not the greatest feeling to go in a Grand Slam knowing that all is not perfect in practice. I don’t play like I would like to in practice,” said the Austrian.

Canadian ninth seed Felix Auger-Alissiame came into this Roland Garros without a win in two visits.

That almost became three on Sunday when he gave up the first two sets to Peruvian qualifier and Grand Slam debutant Juan Pablo Varillas before he recovered to win 2-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.

It was the first time Auger-Alissiame had come back from two sets behind to win.

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