New York, Aug 29 (EFE).- United States Open defending champion Carlos Alcaraz qualified Tuesday for the tournament’s second round after the early injury withdrawal of rival Dominik Koepfer, who had to stop after spraining his left ankle in the match’s first game.
Koepfer, seeded 75, received medical attention and had his ankle bandaged, but forfeited the match at 6-2, 3-2 down after just 60 minutes despite his commendable determination.
The world No. 1 Spaniard will now face South Africa’s Lloyd Harris, ranked 177, who defeated Argentina’s Guido Pella.
“I have to give him credit (for trying to continue playing). Hopefully I can see him again on the court soon,” Alcaraz said after injury befell Koepfer, who had never faced the Spaniard and got injured trying to hit a backhand.
The situation was immediately seen to be worrying as he took off his shoes, asked for the help of doctors and confirmed his ankle was swelling.
Alcaraz pressed on as he tried to move his rival from side to side and punished him with several unattainable drop shots.
The German tried to resist and risked as much as possible by whipping with his left foot to avoid long rallies, a real ordeal for his sore ankle.
He even had a timid and fleeting moment of reaction, winning the first game of the second set with his serve.
In the end, despite not wanting to disappoint the more than 20,000 spectators as he told the chair umpire, he said he could no longer continue.
Koepfer’s injury partly clouded Alcaraz’s stellar return to the imposing Arthur Ashe Stadium, the world’s largest tennis court with a capacity of almost 24,000 spectators, and where he was crowned champion last year to become the youngest world No. 1 in history.
Elsewhere, Venus Williams lost Tuesday in the first round while Andy Murray reached 200 Grand Slam victories.
The 43-year-old Williams, seven-time major champion and ranked 410, was invited to the New York tournament and lost to Belgium’s world No. 97 Greet Minnen 6-1, 6-1.
This was the veteran’s 24th participation in the tournament she won twice in 2000 and 2001.
The other experienced player on the circuit, 36-year-old Scotsman Andy Murray, qualified for the second round by beating Frenchman Corentin Moutet 6-2, 7-5, 6-3 on Tuesday in two hours and 58 minutes.
The Scotsman, who will face Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov in the next round, has three Grand Slams to his name, including the 2012 US Open. EFE