Misc Tennis

Escape for Alcaraz – 3-seed survives, advances at French Open

Escape for Alcaraz - 3-seed survives, advances at French Open

PARIS — Carlos Alcaraz‘s forehand was giving him a hard time at the French Open. So was the 176th-ranked qualifier across the net. After ceding the third set and trailing by a break in the fourth, Alcaraz needed to get in gear — and he did, taking the last five games to beat Jesper De Jong 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 Wednesday in the second round.

Heavy rain from early in the day caused the postponement of 23 singles matches, so Alcaraz was lucky to get the chance to compete, and advance, under the retractable roof at Court Philippe Chatrier.

Still, he could not quite shake De Jong, a 23-year-old from the Netherlands with a flashy game who was participating in just his second Grand Slam main draw. Alcaraz, a former No. 1 who is seeded No. 3, has won two major championships and is still just 21.

But Alcaraz has been dealing with a bothersome right arm that limited his preparation for Roland Garros and, he said, made him afraid to hit his big forehand with full force. He has been wearing a white sleeve on that forearm and did so again Wednesday; perhaps it helped things, although he ended up with 26 unforced errors on the forehand side, more than half of his 47 total miscues.

So, while he usually takes pride in being an entertainer, and not just an athlete, he needed to recalibrate that a bit.

“I saw that I need to forget about putting on a show. … It was difficult for me today,” Alcaraz said. “I was in trouble a little bit, but really happy to do it at the end.”

Only, however, after De Jong became the lowest-ranked man to win a set against Alcaraz at a major tournament, then broke to go ahead 2-1 in the fourth. Alcaraz would not drop a game the rest of the way in the 3-hour, 9-minute match.

“I prefer to not spend not too much time on the court,” said Alcaraz, who removed his arm sleeve and donned a black windbreaker as de Jong exited toward the locker room to a standing ovation. “But every match is different.”

Showers halted play on the outside courts after about 45 minutes at the beginning of the day. Only Chatrier and Court Suzanne Lenglen can be covered, so matches at only those two places were able to proceed.

Another winner on the men’s side Wednesday was Stefanos Tsitsipas, who moved on with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-4 victory over Daniel Altmaier.

The Associated…

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