Carlos Alcaraz wins at Rio Open, eyes race with Novak Djokovic for No.1

Carlos Alcaraz advanced to the second round of the Rio Open on Wednesday, preparing for a year-long fight with Novak Djokovic.

Defending champion Mateus Alves, 19, won 6-4, 6-4 in the final two games of a match suspended because of rain the previous day.

At the clay court tournament, Alcaraz will play Fabio Fognini, who beat Tomas Barrios Vera 6-2, 6-3.

In his first tournament since his Grand Slam breakthrough at the U.S. Open last year, the Spanish teenager was sidelined for four months with a leg muscle injury. Last week at the Argentina Open, he won his first title since returning from the injury.

In 2021, Alcaraz became the first teen-year-end No. 1 in ATP history. He is currently ranked No. 2 in the rankings.

A beautiful year with beautiful tournaments awaits us. It is true that there will be a little pressure to defend important titles. Alcaraz told a news conference he would play at a good level, but he always said, “I play every match thinking I must enjoy it, not just win.” In this year, I hope to win more Grand Slams and regain the No. 1 ranking.

Defending titles in Rio, Miami, Barcelona, Madrid, and the final major of the season in New York will be the focus of the hottest up-and-coming player on tour.

Alcaraz struggled against Alves, a Brazilian ranked No. 556. It took him almost two hours to win, as he had only seen videos of his 22-year-old opponent.

It is not easy to stop after a match and then have to start again the next day,” Alcaraz said. “I am doing well after four months injured. I had a great week in Argentina and I am enthusiastic about coming here.”

Diego Schwartzman, last year’s runner-up, was knocked out by Serbian player Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-4. Lajovic will play compatriot Laslo Djere in the next round.


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