#NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz notched another career first on Monday when he earned his maiden berth into the second round at Roland Garros.
The 18-year-old, who cracked the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings for the first time last week, defeated fellow qualifier Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-3, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(4). Alcaraz trailed by a break in the fourth set, but he clawed back to triumph after three hours and eight minutes.
“I think the mental game is really, really important in these kinds of matches. You have to be focussed and calm all the match, three hours and 10 minutes. It’s really important and not easy to do,” Alcaraz said. “I trust a lot in my physical [conditioning], yeah. I could play a really, really good game during the whole match.”
The teen sensation has now not just successfully qualified at the season’s first two Grand Slams, but he has also won a match in the main draw as well. Alcaraz earned momentum heading into the clay-court major by claiming an ATP Challenger Tour title in Oeiras, Portugal two weeks ago.
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Alcaraz showed impressive resilience against his countryman, who beat him in a Challenger final last September. Zapata Miralles seemingly had an answer for every Alcaraz surge, but the #NextGenATP star made his stand in the fourth-set tie-break. The World No. 97 hit 41 winners and broke serve eight times to earn a match against big-hitting Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.
“I think it has been a tough match against a great player like Zapata, a really tough player. I think when I won the third set, I think he [was] going a bit down on the beginning of the fourth,” Alcaraz said. “But he [was] still playing really, really well in the fourth. I had to be focussed with his shots. I think I played a really, really good game in the fourth, going down all the set. I think in the tie-break I [went] for the match.”
The 28th seed beat 2019 Monte-Carlo finalist Dusan Lajovic 6-4, 6-3, 0-6, 6-2. Basilashvili had not won a match at Roland Garros since making the third round in 2017.