The top seeded Carlos Alcaraz downed Portugal’s Nuno Borges 6-3 6-1 in just over an hour during the second round of the Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell, an ATP 500 level event which he won last year.
I feel great. Moving well, hitting the ball really well so I feel a lot of confidence playing here in Barcelona. It’s a really special place for me Carlos Alcaraz
The 19-year-old Spaniard is through to the last-16, and in the absence of Rafa Nadal, a previous serial winner at the event, Alcaraz has the chance of setting his own stamp on the tournament over the coming years.
The 79th ranked Borges, at 26-years of age was not inexperienced but he was unable to contain the power of his younger opponent who has shown some exceptional talent over the past 12 months.
Alcaraz needed just 63-minutes to dispatch Borges with some ruthless tennis, converting five of the seven break points offered up to him.
“I feel great. Playing here in Barcelona, [my] first match on clay since Rio [in February],” Alcaraz said following his win. “I feel great. Moving well, hitting the ball really well so I feel a lot of confidence playing here in Barcelona. It’s a really special place for me.”
And he made it look easy, swiftly pulling ahead into a 5-1 lead as he eased back into competitive mode following his injury lay-off after losing at the semi-final stage of the Miami Masters.
Borges did recover one of those early breaks but was unable to prevent the Alcaraz steam-roller from pushing on to claim the set and then dominate the second for his sixth win in Barcelona from seven matches.
The teenager now takes on his experienced compatriot Roberto Bautista Agut who in turn, took out fellow Spaniard Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-2 6-2.
In contrast, Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori scored one of the best wins of his career when he took out Frances Tiafoe, the in-form American fifth seed 6-4 6-7(3) 6-4 to progress into round three.
The 24-year-old Finn, ranked No 40, had eliminated Kazak‘s Alexander Bublik 6-0 6-3 and will next face Spain’s Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who cruised past Argentina’s Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-3 6-3.
For Tiafoe, currently ranked 12, it was a disappointing result and frustration erupted when he ended up smashing his racket in the deciding set after losing a point, having toiled back from a set down to level the match and lead 3-0 in the decider and give himself a chance of victory.
That incident occurred when Tiafoe made a cross court volley error at 4-4 which handed Ruusuvuori a break and the chance to serve for the match,
Tiafoe was penalised and a point was awarded to the Helsinki player who then served out to close it out after two-hours and 45-minutes of emotional play.
Meanwhile the third seeded Norwegian, Casper Ruud edged past American Ben Shelton 6-2 7-6(1) after saving four of the five break points he faced and converted just three of eight break opportunities he raised.
He also failed to serve it out in the second and had to rely on the tie-break which he then dominated to claim a place in round three after 99-minutes.
“He was playing great, and I think I was playing great. I played a perfect first set and he was playing maybe a few too many mistakes. I think all throughout the second set was tough games, tough rallies. It can be difficult.
“In the first set you feel like you get a a lot of free points, and so on, but then suddenly he starts playing almost like a wall and playing really good from on defence. It’s tough when someone changes in the middle of the match, but I am very happy that I was able to stay calm and play a very good tie-break”, Ruud on claiming his win.
Ruud, who won his first title of the year in Estoril after a poor start to the season, , set up a second round match against either Argentina’s Francisco Cerundolo, the 15th seed or Francesco Passaro, the Italin who beat the Spanish veteran Fernando Verdasco 6-1 6-2.
In other first round action, Diego Schwartzman of Argentina converted five of his eleven break points for his 6-2 6-2 win over China’s Wu Yibing achieved in 79-minutes to set up a second round meeting with last week’s Monte Carlo semi-finalist from Italy, the fourth seed, Jannik Sinner.