French Open: Top seed Carlos Alcaraz stumbles before recovering

PARIS, May 31

Carlos Alcaraz came through a tricky early test at the French Open with flying colours, as the world No. 1 sealed a 6-1 3-6 6-1 6-2 victory over Japan’s Taro Daniel today to reach the third round. Alcaraz enjoyed a dominant opening win over Flavio Cobolli in his first match as the top seed in a Grand Slam and the 20-year-old made another blistering start against Daniel to ease through the first set.

Daniel pounced early in the next to grab a 3-0 lead before Alcaraz got on the board. He continued to batter the suddenly error-prone Spaniard with some relentless hitting from the baseline before levelling the contest. But the Japanese player, who is ranked 112, was quickly on the back foot again as Alcaraz regained focus to break early and close out the third set in style conceding only one game late on. Alcaraz closed out the match on serve to book an encounter with Canadian Denis Shapovalov.

Djokovic row simmers

Stefanos Tsitsipas enjoyed an incident-free path into the third round with a win over Roberto Carballes Baena but all eyes will be on Novak Djokovoic later as a political row sparked by the two-time champion intensified.

Tsitsipas is chasing his first Grand Slam title and made a sluggish start to his campaign against Jiri Vesely but the fifth seed looked back to his best against Carballes Baena, as he came through a mid-match test to beat the Spaniard 6-3 7-6(4) 6-2.

Anna Blinkova later dashed French hopes with a 4-6 6-3 7-5 win over fifth seed Caroline Garcia, finally wrapping up the thrilling contest on her ninth matchpoint.

The fallout of Djokovic’s statement earlier this week that “Kosovo is the heart of Serbia” continued as the Kosovo Olympic Committee asked the International Olympic Committee to open disciplinary proceedings against the world No. 3. Djokovic wrote the message on a camera lens after his first-round win on Monday, the same day that some 30 NATO peacekeeping troops were hurt in clashes with Serb protesters in the town of Zvecan — where the 22-time Major champion’s father grew up.

The IOC, which bans any political statements on the field of play and at medal ceremonies at the Olympics, said it had no say on the matter as the Grand Slams had their own rules. The International Tennis Federation said Djokovic’s message did not violate Grand Slam rules. — Reuters


Mixed day for Indians

The Indian pair of Yuki Bhambri and Saketh Myneni notched up a straight-set win over France’s Arthur Rinderknech and Enzo Couacaud in the men’s doubles. Yuki and Saketh, who had won the Bangkok Open Challenger in January, took 64 minutes to get the better of Arthur and Enzo 6-3 6-2 in their opening match. However, Indian tennis star Rohan Bopanna and his Australian partner Matthew Ebden couldn’t cross the opening hurdle, going down 5-7 6-7(5-7) to Sadio Doumbia and Fabien Reboul. The pair, who had won the BNP Paribas Open, Qatar Open and reached the finals of the Madrid Open this year, saved five match points before the French duo prevailed. It was also the end of the road for N Sriram Balaji and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan after they went down 3-6 4-6 to Belarus’ Ilya Ivashka and Alexei Popyrin of Australia in their opener.

Sabalenka tames qualifier Shymanovich

World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka fought off a determined challenge from fellow Belarusian Iryna Shymanovich to move into the third round with a 7-5 6-2 victory as she eyes the world No. 1 spot. The 25-year-old will take over top spot from Poland’s Iga Swiatek with victory at the Paris Grand Slam. “It was a tough match, I’m happy that I was able to fight for every point,” Sabalenka said. “I’m not happy with my game today. I’m going to work on short balls and approach shots, and make sure I’m ready in my next match.” Agencies

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