Nice | Alcaraz back in action in the Hopman Cup

Newly-minted Wimbledon champion Carlos Alcaraz won his opening singles match at the Hopman Cup in Nice on Friday, coming from a set down to defeat David Goffin from Belgium, and levelling the tie for Spain.

I have tried to play at a good level and show a good tennis to make you enjoy. I’m a little tired, but I’m very happy to be able to play here. Carlos Alcaraz

After Elise Mertens prevailed over Rebeka Masarova, 7-6(3) 2-6 [10-5], to put Belgium 1-0 up, Alcaraz, the World No 1, won his first match since clinching a dramatic Wimbledon final by rallying to beat Goffin, 4-6 6-4 [10-8].

Alcaraz, though, could not prevent Spain from losing the tie 2-1 to Belgium, as he and Masarova were dispatched, 6-3 6-1, by Goffin & Mertens in the mixed doubles decider.

The Spaniard, who beat 23-time Grand Slam winner Novak Djokovic in a 5-set thriller on Sunday, fired 3 aces in the singles rubber, as each player dropped serve twice.

“It wasn’t easy, it was a tough match but I’m really happy to come back to clay courts,” Alcaraz said. “It’s a good surface for me, and I really enjoyed playing tennis here.

“I felt the energy and the love from the people.”

Rebeka Masarova & Carlos Alcaraz could not deal with the superior play of Elise Mertens & David Goffin in the deciding mixed doubles rubber


Many were surprised to see Alcaraz appear to play the Hopman Cup after his triumph at Wimbledon just a few days ago, fully expecting him to pull out for much-needed rest.

By his own admission, the Spaniard had not set foot on a tennis court all week, but after a quick trip home, he arrived in Nice on Thursday, ready for action, as promised.

Speaking to reporters prior to his opening match, Alcaraz said he is still struggling to believe he is a Wimbledon champion.

“Thinking I won Wimbledon is tough to believe. I can’t believe that I won and beat Novak [Djokovic], probably it will take some days to believe,” he said. “I’m a little bit tired, I’m not going to lie.

“I had some days off to rest a little bit. I’m feeling great right now. I’m here to make people happy watching the match.”

The Hopman Cup is effectively an exhibition event run by the ITF that is being held at the Nice Lawn Club in southern France after an absence of 4 years, and carries no ranking points.

6 mixed teams representing their nations in singles and doubles are competing this week, but already Denmark, comprised of Holger Rune and Clara Tauson, have been eliminated after completing the round-robin stage.

David Goffin & Elise Mertens took the deciding rubber against Spain in straight sets and head Group B, with one tie yet to play - Spain and Croatia - on Saturday


Despite a slow start against Goffin, Alcaraz produced a solid enough effort to defeat the Belgian in 3 sets, giving Spain a chance to win the tie after Mertens defeated Masarova earlier in the day.

While the 20-year-old dropped his serve twice to surrender the opening set to Goffin, he responded by levelling the match before he came from 0-4 down in the super tiebreak to wrap up the win.

Spain needed to win the mixed doubles match to get it done, though, and this was the first mixed doubles match of Alcaraz’s career and only his 7th ever, plus they were facing one of the best doubles players on tour in Mertens.

In the first set, Alcaraz’s lack of experience in doubles began to show, and the Belgian pair had started off strongly with an initial 2-0 lead, although they later gave up their serve to make it 2-2.

In fact, on both sides of the court, nobody was able to reach a consistent level, and only in the first set there were 6 breaks, the last of them achieved by Goffin & Mertens, when they were leading Alcaraz & Masarova by 5-3, to take the opener.

The Belgians’ greater experience showed at various times in the rubber, as the Spaniards simply lacked the teamwork to make much impact, but it was nevertheless an entertaining contest, with plenty of breaks on both sides.

In the second set, the Spanish pair had 3 break points in the very first game, and failed to convert any of them, and the Belgians proved to be much stronger, stringing together 2 consecutive games with one more break, to take a 4-1 lead.

The situation was proving difficult for Alcaraz & Masarova, who gave up their serve yet again to go 1-5 down, and Goffin & Masarova did not falter in serving it out to take the win.

Alcaraz & Masarova went 0-9 behind their second serve in the opening set, and that was always going to be the problem as they got broken 4 times.

While the second one had proved a little closer, similar problems persisted, and the Belgians broke them twice and fended off all of the chances the Spaniards conjured up, which was enough to take Belgium to the top of Group B, winning the tie 2-1.

Although Alcaraz ended up on the losing side of the tie, he was happy in the manner he performed.

“I have tried to play at a good level and show a good tennis to make you enjoy,” he said afterwards. “I’m a little tired, but I’m very happy to be able to play here.”

A delighted Leandro Riedi & Celine Naef beat Alizé Cornet & Richard Gasquet to secure a spot in Sunday's final for defending champions Switzerland


In the last of the round-robin matches, Alcaraz is back in action on Saturday when he takes on No 15-ranked Borna Coric of Croatia in singles, and then teams up again for the mixed doubles against Coric and Donna Vekic, who will play Masarova in the first rubber.

Croatia beat Belgium 2-1 on Thursday, with the winners of the 3-team Group A to be determined on Saturday facing Switzerland in the final on Sunday.

In Friday’s other tie, Switzerland scored a 2-1 victory over France after the duo of Celine Naef & Leandro Riedi beat Alizé Cornet & Richard Gasquet, 6-4 7-5, in the mixed doubles rubber to book their place in Sunday’s final.

Earlier, Cornet downed Naef, 1-6 6-3 [10-8] to put France 1-0 up, before Riedi got past Gasquet, 3-6 6-3 [10-8], to level the tie and set up the deciding rubber.

The last edition of the Hopman Cup, which was named after Australian great Harry Hopman, was held in Perth, Western Australia in 2019, and saw Roger Federer & Belinda Bencic lift the trophy for Switzerland after they beat Germany, fielding Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber, in the final.

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz and Rebeka Masarova have to beat Croatia on Saturday to have a chance of making Sunday's Hopman Cup final




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