Tennis

Carlos Alcaraz saves match point to reach third round of French Open

Carlos Alcaraz saves match point to reach third round of French Open
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Rising star Carlos Alcaraz saved a match point in the fourth set and erased an early deficit in the fifth to overcome Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-1, 6-7 (7), 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6- 4 to reach the third round of the French Open.

The sixth-seeded Alcaraz grabbed six of the final seven games, and the last half-dozen points, to finish off the second-round victory that lasted more than 4 1/2 hours at Roland Garros.

Alcaraz is just 19 but arrived in Paris with a lot of expectations — of his own and of others — based on his breakthrough season that includes a tour-leading four titles. He is the youngest player to break into the top 10 of the ATP rankings since Rafael Nadal in 2005.

En route to the Madrid Open title on red clay earlier this month, Alcaraz became the first man to beat both Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament on that surface.

But he was quite close to making a quicker-than-expected exit against fellow Spaniard Ramos-Vinolas, a 34-year-old who is ranked 44th.

Alcaraz was a point from losing while Ramos-Vinolas served for the victory at 5-4 in the fourth set. But Ramos-Vinolas missed a forehand there. Eighty minutes later, after trailing 3-0 in the fifth, Alcaraz earned his first match point and converted it with an ace.

Also Wednesday, Djokovic eased into the third round of his French Open title defense with a straight-sets victory over Alex Molcan.

The top-ranked Djokovic defeated the 24-year-old Slovakian 6-2, 6-3, 7-6 (4) at Court Suzanne Lenglen.

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Molcan is coached by Djokovic’s longtime coach, Marian Vajda, and was able to push Djokovic to a third-set tiebreaker. But Molcan threw his racket down in frustration after hitting the ball into the net — his 34th unforced error — to fall behind 6-3 before Djokovic closed it out.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion next faces 32-year-old Slovenian Aljaz Bedene.

Alexander Zverev had to rally from two sets down and save a match point to reach the third round as the German overcame Argentina’s Sebastian Baez 2-6, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 7-5.

That’s the good news for the No. 3 seed.

The bad news is Baez was making his French Open debut, and Zverev’s half of the draw includes Djokovic, Nadal and Alcaraz.

Zverev had trouble with the 21-year-old Baez’s serve but got his return game in order in the third set.

Zverev saved a match point before holding for 5-5 in the decider and then broke Baez before serving out the match.

The last time Zverev put himself in a two-set hole at Roland Garros it didn’t end as well. He battled back in the semifinals last June against Stefanos Tsitsipas but lost in five sets.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

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