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Alcaraz dominates Cobolli; Swiatek begins French Open defense

May 30, 2023 09:44 IST

Alcaraz blasts past qualifier Cobolli in French Open first round

Carlos Alcaraz

IMAGE: Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates after winning his first round match against Italy's Flavio Cobolli. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

World number one Carlos Alcaraz issued an early warning to his rivals as the Spaniard began his quest for a second Grand Slam title by easing past Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 in the French Open first round on Monday.


The 20-year-old has already cemented his status as a top contender on the biggest stages and is one of the favourites to take on the mantle of his compatriot and 14-times Roland Garros champion Rafa Nadal, who is absent this year with a hip issue.

"I feel the love from the people," Alcaraz said. "I don't know if they are Nadal fans or not, but I felt the energy from the crowd. I felt the love, and it was great to feel that."

Alcaraz, who missed the Australian Open in January due to a leg injury, was impressive in his first Grand Slam match since his US Open triumph last year and was ruthless as he raced through the opening set.

A fourth break of the contest early in the second set handed Alcaraz, who won the claycourt tournaments in Barcelona and Madrid, the advantage again before Cobolli finally got on the board in his main draw debut at the majors.

Alcaraz comfortably served out to go two sets up but the 159th-ranked Cobolli held his own and threatened to mount a late fightback as he broke to level the third set at 5-5 with some ripping forehands.

However, the top seed stepped up another gear to ensure Cobolli - who promised to get a tattoo of the Roland Garros logo after his qualifying run - would leave the tournament with an abiding image of a chastening defeat.

Up next for Alcaraz is Japan's Taro Daniel who eased past Australian Christopher O'Connell 6-0, 6-2, 6-4.

Swiatek begins French Open defence with sights on successive titles

Iga Swiatek

IMAGE: Poland's Iga Swiatek said the extra days off could help her as she chases a third Roland Garros title in four years. Photograph: Aleksandra Szmigiel/Reuters

Iga Swiatek has her sights set on back-to-back French Open crowns despite a recent thigh injury and the world number one remains optimistic of being fully fit for her opening round match on Tuesday.

Swiatek was forced to retire from her Italian Open quarter-final against eventual champion Elena Rybakina after suffering the injury, but said the extra days off could help her as she chases a third Roland Garros title in four years.

Having won the claycourt tournament in Stuttgart last month and finished runner-up to Aryna Sabalenka in Madrid, the Pole remains the favourite in Paris as she begins her 61st week at the top of the WTA rankings.

"Luckily nothing serious happened, so I had a couple of days off," Swiatek said on Friday. "I'm still recovering from the thigh injury, but I'll be good for my first round. That's the most important thing for me.

"Having this time to reset and think about other stuff and just calm down for a couple of days was really helpful. And also to analyse what happened during the whole clay season.

"It's a nice way to go to the last tournament of the clay season with all the knowledge I gained."

Swiatek, who turns 22 this week, will face Spain's Cristina Bucsa in the first round on Court Philippe-Chatrier while Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina takes on Czech qualifier Brenda Fruhvirtova.

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