Alcaraz wins rain-delayed opener in Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO • World No 2 Carlos Alcaraz (picture) overcame 556th-ranked Mateus Alves of Brazil in a rain-delayed opening match on Wednesday to advance to the second round of the ATP Rio Open.

Reigning Rio champion Alcaraz, who returned last week after four months out because of injury, started his title defense at the clay-court tournament on Tuesday.

However, he and Alves had their match interrupted by a torrential downpour with the 19-year-old Spaniard leading 6-4, 5-3.

Home-crowd favourite Alves, 22, who had pushed Alcaraz harder than expected on Tuesday, looked determined to mount a comeback when play resumed on stadium court, winning the first game.

But US Open champion Alcaraz held serve in the second to take the match, 6-4, 6-4.

Alcaraz, who made his 2023 debut last week by winning his seventh career ATP title at the Argentina Open, will next face 86th-ranked Fabio Fognini of Italy on Thursday in the round of 16.

“It was a complicated match, as the final result shows,” said Alcaraz, who lost the first two games.

“Alves is a great player, which he showed here despite the conditions, having to stop and come back the next day. It’s not easy to play like that. But I’m happy with the win.”

Fognini, 35, beat Tomas Barrios of Chile in another rain-delayed match finished on Wednesday, 6-2, 6-3.

“Fabio is a great player. He’s played at a very high level his whole career,” said Alcaraz.

“He’s very dangerous, with huge talent, very explosive. I’ll have to stay very focused.” – AFP