Djokovic, Alcaraz remain on French Open collision course

Paris, May 31 (EFE).- Serbian great Novak Djokovic and Spanish world No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz recorded straight-forward wins in second-round action here Wednesday, moving themselves one step closer to a potential French Open semifinal showdown.

Alcaraz, who eased past Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2, stepped onto Court Philippe-Chatrier during the day session and showed his all-court game from the outset.

Two games in, he grabbed the first service break of the match by going from defense to offense, approaching the net with an on-the-rise backhand and finishing off the point with a forehand volley winner.

A few games later, the Spaniard wrapped up the first set by moving forward immediately after his first serve and executing an exquisite forehand drop volley.

Daniel, however, started reading Alcaraz’s lethal drop shot at the start of the second set and making him pay for leaving the ball too deep in the court.

The world No. 112 secured an early service break, managed to control his service games and evened the contest at a set apiece when his opponent netted a forehand.

Alcaraz, however, stepped up his aggressiveness in the third set, attacking Daniel’s second serve to snag a quick 2-0 lead and then continuing to strike clean winners off the forehand side en route to a double-break 4-0 advantage.

A few games later, he seized a two-set-to-love lead with another successful serve-and-volley play.

Alternating drop-shot and forehand drive winners, Alcaraz continued to roll in the fourth set to clinch victory in two hours and 25 minutes.

“It was really, really tough, but you have to adjust your game as best you can. I was really focused on every shot. I played a great level and happy with the win,” the top-ranked Spaniard said afterward.

In Wednesday’s night session, the third-seeded Djokovic rolled to a comfortable 7-6 (7-2), 6-0, 6-3 victory over Marton Fucsovics, although the 83rd-ranked Hungarian made the 22-time Grand Slam champion work in the first set.

The match had the makings of a rout in the early going, with Djokovic taking advantage of numerous unforced errors by his opponent to race out to a 3-0 lead.

But the set then turned into a tight battle, with the Serb forced to save several break points en route to taking a 5-3 lead.

Djokovic finally faltered when serving for the set, tossing in his first double fault of the contest to allow Fucsovics to get back on serve.

The set finally came down to a tiebreaker, which Djokovic won convincingly and used as a springboard for a dominating stretch of tennis in the second set.

The Hungarian, after committing a whopping 12 unforced errors in just six games in the second set, put up more of a fight in the third.

He fared well on return and broke Djokovic twice but was outclassed by the Serbian’s stellar return game and lost his own serve four times.

The rest of Wednesday’s men’s second-round action at Roland Garros also was mainly devoid of upsets.

Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, the No. 5 seed and 2021 French Open runner-up (to Djokovic), defeated Spain’s Roberto Carballes Baena 6-3, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, while Russian No. 7 seed Andrey Rublev topped Frenchman Corentin Moutet 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

In the women’s singles draw, second-seeded Belarusian and reigning Australian Open champion Aryna Sabalenka defeated countrywoman Iryna Shymanovich 7-5, 6-2 and third-seeded Jessica Pegula of the United States advanced to the third round when Italy’s Camila Giorgi retired with an injury after losing the first set 6-2.

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