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By Richard Pagliaro | Monday, May 29, 2023


In his first major match as No. 1, world No. 1, Carlos Alcaraz dismissed Italian Flavio Cobolli 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 to cruise into the Roland Garros second round.

Photo credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty

Midway through the second set, Carlos Alcaraz used explosive burst and crazy creativity to leave Flavio Cobolli seeing double.

Streaking up retrieve a drop shot, Alcaraz dabbed a forehand flick behind Cobolli that put the Italian's head on a swivel and nearly knocked him out of his shoes trying to change direction.

Ferrero: Alcaraz Definitely Better in 2023

Even when he looked out of position, Alcaraz answered with disorientating replies.

In his first Grand Slam match as world No. 1, Alcaraz combined force and finesse to dismiss Italian qualifier Cobolli 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 and cruise into the Roland Garros second round.

"I think I played great," Alcaraz said. "It's been a great start here in Roland Garros, great match.

"You know, in the third set I was in trouble a little bit. But, yeah, at the end he played a good level so I'm really, really happy to get through the first round."

The top-seeded Spaniard applied his all-court skills winning 18 of 20 trips to net improving his 2023 record to 31-3.

Contesting his third career Roland Garros, Alcaraz will play Japanese baseliner Taro Daniel in round two.

World No. 112 Daniel dismissed Christopher O'Connell 6-0, 6-2, 6-4 for his first French Open win since 2017.

Launching his hunt for a fifth title on the season, Madrid champion Alcaraz was commanding for two sets. Alcaraz failed to convert three match points on Cobolli's serve at 5-3 then dropped serve for the only time in the 10th game. Alcaraz responded winning the final two games for his 21st victory in 23 clay-court matches this season.

On a day in which 22-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic defeated American major debutant Aleksandar Kovacevic 6-3, 6-2, 7-6(1) raising his Roland Garros first-round record to a flawless 19-0 on Court Philippe Chatrier, Alcaraz also beat an opponent major his major debut on what is likely the Spaniard's lone match on Court Suzanne Lenglen.

Bursting out of the blocks quickly, Alcaraz snatched 25 of the first 35 points dishing out an opening-set bagel.

Hitting heavier and serving with more sting, Alcaraz won eight straight games to open before Cobolli finally got on the board at 1-2 of the second set.

"I felt I couldn't lose a game," Alcaraz said of eight games on the trot to start. "I thought that I was able to win easier than I did, but, you know, a match can turn around in each game.

"But, yeah, at the start of the match, I felt invincible."

The top seed led 4-2 when Cobolli caught up to a drop shot and tapped a sliding forehand dropper back only to see a sliding Alcaraz come from nowhere to pass him with a spectacular forehand flick behind the Italian.

When Alcaraz wasn't bamboozling Cobolli with finesse he was fire-bombing him with force. Alcaraz annihilated a forehand breaking for a 5-2 second-set lead.

Alcaraz bolted a forehand winner down the line for a two-set lead after just 53 minutes.

Closure became complicated. An Alcaraz drop shot kissed the top of the tape and crawled over for triple match point. Qualifier Cobolli saved all three match points, hanging tough to hold for 4-5.

Serving for the match, Alcaraz spun a forehand winner down the line to save a break point, but scattered a crosscourt backhand wide to face a second break point.

Tempting the Italian with another drop shot, Alcaraz paid the price as a sprinting Cobolli ran it down and swatted a clean forehand winner breaking back for 5-5 with a raised index finger to roaring fans.

That shot was a temporary reprieve as Alcaraz won the final two games to move into round two. 


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