The Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz did not miss his debut on clay in Rome with a controlled victory against his compatriot Albert Ramos (72nd) and the reconquest of the place of world No.1 before Roland-Garros (May 18-11 June).
The “man to beat” on the ocher currently in the absence of Rafael Nadal, according to the six-time winner and title holder of the Rome Masters 1000 Novak Djokovic, played the heavy rain on the Italian capital to sign his twentieth victory in 21 matches on clay in 2023.
Exempted from the 1st round, the 20-year-old Spaniard certainly began his Roman adventure by losing his face-off, but he quickly increased the pace to subdue Ramos in 1h26 (6-4, 6-1).
The one who has just won the Barcelona and Madrid tournaments in quick succession is playing the Roman tournament for the first time, where he appears as Djokovic’s main rival on the way to a possible seventh coronation.
It’s the first time this year that both are taking part in the same tournament and the tifosi are already dreaming of a duel of titans, which could only take place in the final, on May 21, one week before the start. of Roland Garros.
In Paris, Alcaraz will arrive in world No.1, a place he will certainly occupy in the next ATP ranking, after Rome. The young Spaniard only needed to play one match at Foro Italico to pass Djokovic, whom he was trailing in the last standings.
As a holder, “Nole” will be able to keep his current points at best, in the event of another success, while Alcaraz, absent last year in Italy, has already garnered enough points to overtake him and regain the place of N .1 which he has already held regularly since winning the US Open last year.
Hecatomb among women
“Being N.1 is great. To be in a Grand Slam, at Roland-Garros, is something crazy, I couldn’t have believed it a few years ago,” commented Alcaraz. .
“But to be honest, it doesn’t change much to be seeded N.1 or N.2. I just have to be focused on the tournament, on my game,” he added.
The Spaniard was satisfied to have mastered his compatriot Ramos in “conditions which were not easy, with rain all day”. “I didn’t know if I was going to play or not, it was hard”, he underlined after a match played in the afternoon under a light drizzle, incomparable however with the midday heavy rain.
The Spaniard will meet in the 3rd round the Hungarian Fabian Marozsan (135th in the world) or the Czech Jiri Lehecka (39th).
Between the drops, the Russian Andrey Rublev (N.6) also qualified at the expense of the Slovak Alex Molcan (59th).
Among women, the massacre continues with the elimination in the 3rd round of the French Caroline Garcia (4th in the world). Confidence at half mast for a few weeks, she lost 6-4, 6-4, against the 100th world, Colombian Camila Osorio, during a match interrupted by rain at the start of the second set.
With the elimination of Garcia, seeded N.5, the tournament has already lost before the round of 16 four of the five members of its “Top 5”, which was already orphaned by Aryna Sabalenka (N.2), Jessica Pegula (N.3) and Ons Jabeur (N.4).