• Arab trailblazer Ons Jabeur gets knocked out on day one as Thiem also exits
Spanish teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz advanced to the second round of the French Open yesterday, 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.
Also yesterday, Arab trailblazer Ons Jabeur crashed out of the French Open 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 yesterday by 47 unforced errors in the two hour 28-minute match.
“Obviously I was expecting better but we say maybe something happens bad because there is something good happening in the future,” said Jabeur.
Linette had lost to Jabeur in the third round in 2021 having stunned an injury-hit top seed Ashleigh Barty in her previous match.
“I just tried to stay focused after the first set and tried to make her uncomfortable,” said Linette. 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.
World number 46 Kanepi, who turns 37 next month, made the last eight at the French Open in 2008 and 2012. Yesterday’s victory was her 10th top ten win at a Slam.
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.
‘Not greatest feeling’
The 28-year-old Austrian, a former world number three, reached at least the quarter-finals 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 yesterday 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.
Also yesterday, German third seed Alexander Zverev produced a clinical performance to kick off his French Open campaign with a 6-2 6-4 6-4 win against Austrian qualifier Sebastian Ofner.
The 25-year-old Zverev, who reached the semi-finals last year at Roland Garros, came to Paris with strong clay-court form behind him, having reached the final in Madrid and making semi-final 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 fourth seed Maria Sakkari admitted she suffered a small bout of nerves in her first round 6-2 6-3 win over Clara Burel but promised to improve so her parents will get to see her in the later stages of the tournament.
Last year’s semi-finalist was never troubled by the 21-year-old French player but said she would need to cut down on her mistakes after making 29 unforced errors.
“I want to do well here. People want to come see me play,” Sakkari told a news conference. “My parents want to come here later in the tournament so I want to be here for as long as possible.”
“It’s always tough to play against a local. I think I handled my stress, handled the stress of the first round, extremely well. My Tennis was not 10 out of 10 but I am happy.”
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