Tennis: Alcaraz made to work for Australian Open third-round berth

AFP , Thursday 18 Jan 2024

World number two Carlos Alcaraz dropped a set Thursday before rediscovering his mojo to battle into the Australian Open third round, coming good when it mattered.

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates after victory against Italy's Lorenzo Sonego during their men's singles match on day five of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne on January 18, 2024. Photo: AFP


The 20-year-old Spaniard was put through his paces by Italy's Lorenzo Sonego before prevailing 6-4, 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/3) on Rod Laver Arena.

Two-time major champion and second seed Alcaraz will meet either Indian qualifier Sunmit Nagal or Chinese wildcard Shang Juncheng next as he ramps up his drive towards a maiden title in Melbourne.

"I'm really happy with my performance today," said Alcaraz, who missed last year's opening Grand Slam of the year with an injury.

"Both of us played such a great level, high intensity. The match was a bit tricky with the wind and sun, tough to play my best.

"Even if I lost the second set, I think I played a good game."

The second seed had a stellar 2023, lifting six tour-level trophies.

He also constantly battled for the number one spot with 10-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic and has the opportunity to seize back the top ranking in Melbourne.

Alcaraz took time to find his rhythm against Sonego but pounced in game seven, triggering a baseline error from the Italian to earn a break before closing out the first set.

It was equally tight in the second set, which went to a tie-break. Sonego broke early and held on to level the match.

The setback sparked a new lease of life from Alcaraz, who stepped up a gear to seize back control with some scintillating groundstrokes in the third set before encountering more stiff resistance from Sonego in the fourth.

The again went to a tie-break and Alcaraz once again dug deep to seal the win.

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