Umag | Alcaraz begins title defence

Carlos Alcaraz, the top seed at the Playa Laguna Croatia Open, successfully launched the defence of his Croatian title with a relatively comfortable straight sets victory over Lucky Loser Norbert Gombos.

It was tough for me, but at the end I found a way to play better and get the win Carlos Alcaraz

The 19-year-old Spaniard beat the Slovak 6-2 6-3 and will face Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis, a 6-3 6-1 victor over French qualifier Corentin Moutet.

Alcaraz – who became the youngest player since Rafa Nadal to break into the world top-five rankings on Monday – wrapped up the match in one-hour and 38-minutes.

For Gombos it must have been frustrating as he continually chased the ball around the court in his attempts to stem the flow of aggressive play from the new world No.5.

But he did succeed in giving Alcaraz several difficult moments for the teenager had to fend off seven break points.

However Alcaraz did concede that the actual scoreline didn’t really reflect the match.

“It was a really tough match,” Alcaraz said on reaching the last eight for his eighth quarter-final appearance of the year.

“It wasn’t as easy as the result seems.

“Norbert played a really good game and the first round (his opening match following a first round bye) of every tournament is never easy, so I had to get used to the conditions.

“It was tough for me, but at the end I found a way to play better and get the win.”

For Alcaraz, the win will ease the pain of losing in the European Open final in Hamburg last Sunday for his first loss in a title round as he prepares to take on Bagnis for a place in the semis in Umag..

“I played against him [Bagnis] in challengers, I remember we played tough matches,” Alcaraz recollected.

“I know him so well, and he’s a great player on clay, so it’s going to be a really tough match, but I’m going to try to show my best.”

The other quarter-finals feature Bernabe Zapata Miralles of Spain against Italian qualifier Guilio Zeppieri while the eighth seeded Loreznos Musetti (who beat Alcaraz in Hamburg last Sunday) was downed by his Italian countryman Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-3 who now faces a third Italian, also a qualifier, Franco Agamenone who battled past the fourth seeded Sebastian Baez of Argentina.

The last match pitches the second seed Jannick Sinner of Italy against Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena, seemingly the only player who can prevent an Italian on reaching the final!



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