Alcaraz mauls Wolf to reach French Open second round

PARIS   -   Third seed Carlos Alcaraz made a winning start in his bid to claim a first French Open title when he beat American J.J. Wolf 6-1 6-2 6-1 without any obvious problems on his troublesome right forearm on Sunday. Last year’s semi-finalist arrived at Roland Garros with only four matches under his belt on clay due to the issue that forced him to skip Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, with his Madrid title defence also derailed in between.

“I had low expectations coming into the tournament but after the practice week, after this first round, well, the confidence is higher.

My expectations probably got higher after today’s match, but let’s see,” Alcaraz told reporters. “All I can say is I’m feeling great on the court. I felt amazing in this match, so hopefully keep going.”

Having previously expressed lingering worries and wearing a compression sleeve, the 21-year-old Spaniard drew gasps from the crowd on Philippe Chatrier court when he dropped serve in the first game of the contest, but he responded instantly.

Wolf, a lucky loser from the qualifying tournament making his second appearance in the Paris main draw, struggled to keep up with his opponent thereafter and the 25-year-old was broken three times in a one-sided opening set.

“Everybody told me I must go to 100% on every forehand, but I don’t feel as comfortable as before to play every forehand and forget my forearm,” added Alcaraz, whose utter dominance belied the fact that he was playing within himself at times. “I’m trying to hit as many forehands as I can 100%, but there are a few (during which) I want to stay easy.” Under grey skies, Alcaraz quickly doubled his advantage in the contest and then raced ahead 3-0 under the roof in the third set, after rain began falling, before closing out the match when Wolf sent a shot long.

OSAKA OVERCOMES BRONZETTI TO SET UP POTENTIAL SWIATEK CLASH AT FRENCH OPEN

Four-times Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka survived an early scare when she laboured past unseeded Italian Lucia Bronzetti 6-1 4-6 7-5 in the first round of the French Open on Sunday to claim her first win at Roland Garros in three years. Returning this year from a 15-month maternity break, Osaka had fallen in the first round at the Australian Open in January but looked set to breeze into the second round in Paris as the former world number one bombarded Bronzetti from the baseline. However, Osaka nearly imploded in the decider when she threw away a 4-0 lead before sealing victory in the two-hour contest to potentially play Iga Swiatek in the second round if the reigning champion beats French qualifier Leolia Jeanjean on Monday.

“I’m honestly really excited. I watched her (Swiatek) a lot when I was pregnant,” Osaka told reporters. “And honestly, I think it’s an honour to play her in the French Open, because she’s won more than once here. It’s a very big honour and challenge for me.”

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