Injury-free Alcaraz back to illuminate City of Light

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Carlos Alcaraz on his way to an impressive opening victory over American JJ Wolf at the French Open.
Carlos Alcaraz on his way to an impressive opening victory over American JJ Wolf at the French Open.

Carlos Alcaraz has dismissed all the injury fears surrounding him as he made an emphatic opening to his bid for a third grand slam title at the French Open.

The young Spaniard’s participation at Roland Garros had been in some doubt after he pulled out of the Italian Open with a forearm problem, but he showed no sign of discomfort as he crushed American JJ Wolf for the loss of just four games in a 6-1 6-2 6-1 trouncing on Sunday.

The only sign of the 21-year-old’s recent troubles was the sight of the protective sleeve on his right arm, but the Wimbledon and former US Open champion looked immaculate as he hammered down five aces and 27 winners on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“I’m really happy to be back here in Paris to compete again, it’s been a very difficult month for me because I love competing,” declared Alcaraz.

“I’ve tried everything I could to be at 100 per cent here at Roland Garros to show my best tennis, and I think I did that today.

“I would have loved to have played more matches but I don’t need too many matches to get to 100 per cent.

“I did really good preparation this past two weeks and practices with top players. My forearm is getting better and better.”

Alcaraz will player Dutch qualifier Jesper De Jong, who beat Britain’s Jack Draper in five sets, in round two.

Andy Murray waved goodbye to the big stage at Roland Garros for probably the final time after a first-round defeat to fellow ageing great Stan Wawrinka.

The former world number one was well beaten 6-4 6-4 6-2 under the lights on Court Philippe Chatrier in the most eagerly-awaited clash on day one as the Swiss used his trademark one-handed backhand to dominate.

It was a familiar feeling for Murray, whose last three matches on the Paris clay have now ended in defeat to his longtime rival.

In fairness, the 37-year-old Scot had done well just to get here having ruptured ankle ligaments nine weeks ago.

The two old warriors,with a combined age of 76 met for the 23rd time in their illustrious careers. Wawrinka is, like Murray, a three-time grand slam winner and was the French Open champion in 2015.

In other first-round ties, Russian sixth seed Andrey Rublev needed four sets to see off Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-2 6-7 (3-7) 6-3 7-5, while the in-form Bulgarian 10th seed Grigor Dimitrov had a more straightforward win over American Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-4 6-3 6-4.

The first major home casualty came with 17th seed and French number one Ugo Humbert bowing out in four sets, 6-4 2-6 6-4 6-3 to Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

But the Paris showcourt crowds got somethiing to cheer when, at 37 and in the twilight of his career, Richard Gasquet began his 21st Roland Garros main draw appearance — equalling Feliciano Lopez’s Open era record — with a fine 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 win over Croatian Borna Coric on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

With agencies

AAP