Carlos Alcaraz showed why he is the top seed at the 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals Tuesday when he defeated Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune 4-3(6), 4-2, 4-0 to get his Milan campaign underway.
The Spaniard produced big-hitting tennis as he crushed forehands and hammered backhands in a high-quality match against Rune to secure his victory after 75 minutes in their first ATP Head2Head meeting.
“It was a really tough match,” Alcaraz said. “The first set was so close. He had the chance to win the set and I think it was a great match. Both of us played really well. I tried to stay calm, this is new for me. I was really nervous at the beginning, but I tried to be calm.”
The 18-year-old now holds a 1-0 record in the round-robin stage and joins Brandon Nakashima on one victory in Group A after the American defeated Juan Manuel Cerundolo 4-1, 3-4(3), 4-2, 4-0 earlier at the Allianz Cloud.
“To do many different things on court is very important,” Alcaraz added. “I am trying to go to the net and play aggressively in the important moments and stay calm. I am trying to do this every match.”
Convincing performance from Carlos 💪
— ATP Tour (@atptour) November 9, 2021
Alcaraz started the year No. 141 in the FedEx ATP Rankings but arrived in Milan at a career-high No. 32 after a standout season. In a year of firsts, Alcaraz captured his maiden major title in Umag and upset World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas en route to the quarter-finals at the US Open.
The top seed, who is making his debut in Milan, also reached tour-level semi-finals in Marbella, Winston-Salem and Vienna in 2021.
In an exciting match between the two 18-year-olds at the 21-and-under event, Alcaraz demonstrated his confidence as he manoeuvred Rune around the court with his powerful groundstrokes. The Spaniard regularly took encouragement from Juan Carlos Ferrero, with courtside coaching allowed at the event, and shared a smile with Rune after the Dane’s hat fell off during a point in the second set.
Alcaraz, who won 88 per cent (28/32) of his first-serve points, also demonstrated strong defensive skills as he soaked up Rune’s hitting to record his win.
Rune arrived in Milan in form, having won his fourth ATP Challenger Tour title in Bergamo last week. The World No. 109 also took a set off 20-time major champion Novak Djokovic at the US Open in September.