Alcaraz makes punching return, defeats Gasquet in Australian Open

Melbourne, Jan 16 (UNI) Carlos Alcaraz made a punching return at the hard-court major at Rod Laver Arena after beating Richard Gasquet here on Tuesday.

The second-seeded Spaniard won the match 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-2 against Gasquet after a gap of two years at the Australian Open.

Alcaraz lapped up the match in a two-hour and 22 minutes at Rod Laver Arena. Gasquet put the Spaniard to the test in the first set, but the World No.2 prevailed and sailed past in the tie-breaker.

After a fascinating journey last year, the Melbourne Grand Slam appearance was his first this year. He expended all his energy last year to move a step further in the world ranking arena as he grabbed six tour-level trophies. Right now he is World No.2 behind Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

The Frenchman gave a hard time to Alcaraz, displaying his delectable backhand winners to the delight of the night-session crowd.

One of them came out of the blues at 2-3 in the tie-breaker, which the Frenchman went on to lead 5/4 before Alcaraz garnered three points in a row to surge ahead.

Thereafter, Alcaraz stepped up the gas and frequently forayed at the net to execute Midas’s touches as he broke Gasquet’s twice in each of the second and third sets while treading the path to victory. He finished the match having struck 53 winners to Gasquet’s 19, a reflection of how he overpowered his 37-year-old opponent.

Alcaraz, who missed the 2023 Australian Open due to injury, will face Lorenzo Sonego, a 4-6, 7-6(8), 6-2, 7-6(4) winner against Daniel Evans, in the second round.

Having triumphed at the 2022 US Open and 2023 Wimbledon, the 20-year-old Spaniard bidding to become the third man in the Open Era to win three Grand Slam crowns before the age of 21 after Mats Wilander and Bjorn Borg.

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