Carlos Alcaraz tames J.J. Wolf at French Open

PARIS – Carlos Alcaraz comfortably maintained his record of never losing in the first round of a Grand Slam by taming J.J. Wolf at the French Open on May 26.

The world No. 3 and reigning Wimbledon champion eased through 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 against American Wolf, the 107th-ranked player who entered the main draw as a “lucky loser” from qualifying.

Alcaraz, 21, who made the semi-finals at Roland Garros in 2023, when he was defeated by eventual champion Novak Djokovic, took his first-round record at the Slams to 13-0.

The Spaniard next faces either Britain’s Jack Draper or Dutch qualifier Jesper de Jong.

“I’m really happy to be back,” he said in his on-court interview.

“To be back here in Paris, to be back competing again. It’s been a really difficult month for me.

“I love competing, I love playing tennis, and to stay away from that was hurtful for me. I tried everything I could do to be at my 100 per cent here in Paris, to show my best tennis, and I think I did it today.”

Alcaraz was referring to his right arm injury which sidelined him from the Italian Open. He showed no sign of discomfort as he coasted to victory on the back of 27 winners and nine breaks of serve.

Wolf arrived in Paris with just one win on tour all year but he surprised by breaking in the first game.

However, that was as good as it got as Alcaraz swept the next eight games, setting the tone for the match.

Under grey skies, the Spaniard 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.

In the early action, two-time quarter-finalist Andrey Rublev of Russia defeated Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-2, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 7-5.

“It was a tough match, and he is a tough player,” said the sixth seed.

“The conditions were not easy to play, with the wind and everything, but in the end, we played a great match.”

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal admitted that he will be facing “one of the toughest opponents possible” when he faces Alexander Zverev in the first round on May 27.

The 14-time Roland Garros champion, who turns 38 on June 3, has played only four tournaments since January 2023 after suffering a hip injury and then a muscle tear.

That left him unseeded for the draw and vulnerable to a difficult opening round at a tournament where he has lost just three of his 115 matches.

World No. 4 Zverev is one of the favourites for the title after winning the Italian Open earlier in May.

“Of course on paper it is not the best draw,” Nadal said.

“I play against one of the toughest opponents possible, and at the same time, he came here winning the last event and it’s a Masters 1000. So what can I do? That’s the draw. Just try to be ready for it.”


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