CALIFORNIA: Carlos Alcaraz on Saturday delivered his all-action game to start his Indian Wells Open campaign with a 6-3, 6-3 victory against Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Alcaraz was on fire from the off, dropping only one point on service in the opening set and breaking in his first return game as he quickly built a 3-0 lead.
The second set was closer, with Kokkinakis occasionally succeeding in matching power with power, but after another early break, Alcaraz's speed, defence, and consistency proved to be too much to handle.
By winning the Indian Wells championship, the 19-year-old Spaniard, who already won in Madrid and Miami last year, might reclaim the top spot in the ATP Rankings on March 20.
This would be his third victory at the ATP Masters 1000 level. It will need four more victories to achieve that achievement, a target Alcaraz did not back down from in the lead-up to the competition.
His next opponent will be 31st seed Tallon Griekspoor, who defeated Guido Pella 7-6(3), 7-6(4) earlier on Saturday.
"I feel really comfortable playing here, staying here. I felt the love since I came onto the court. I have great memories, I made my first semi-finals at a Masters 1000 here, had that match against Rafa... It's so special to come back here," ATP.com quoted Alcaraz as saying in his post-match interview.
"I would say I played my best, apart from everything: the points that I have to defend, the semi-finals that I have to defend. I tried not to think about that, just to play my game, to enjoy playing here. Of course I tried to make people enjoy watching tennis here... That's what I liked from tonight," the 19-year-old Spaniard said.
Ealsewher, the 19-year-old Holger Rune opened his Indian Wells Open campaign with a 7-5, 6-3 win against American Mackenzie McDonald on Saturday, not surrendering a breakpoint in the match.
Meanwhile, Taylor Fritz began his title defence in Indian Wells and was challenged by the fast-rising Ben Shelton but ultimately used his big-match experience to navigate through a 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 victory.
Visit news.dtnext.in to explore our interactive epaper!
Download the DT Next app for more exciting features!
Click here for iOS
Click here for Android