ATP Tour: Alcaraz survives Kuhn scare in Hamburg

Hamburg (Germany), July 19 (IANS) Carlos Alcaraz endured a rocky start to his Hamburg Open debut with a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(3) first-round win against German wild card Nicola Kuhn, here on Tuesday.

The 19-year-old rallied impressively after he dropped the opening set to the World No. 259 Kuhn, whose aggressive tactics paid off in the early stages in northern Germany.

The Spaniard combined consistency with some trademark moments of brilliance to level the match before holding his nerve in the deciding-set tie-break to improve his record on clay in 2022 to 21-2.

Prior to the tournament, Alcaraz had spoken of how he was using the extra pressure of playing as a top seed at an ATP Tour event for the first time as a source of motivation. Those words were put to the test immediately in Hamburg, where Alcaraz had to showcase grit and determination in the closing stages to hold off the 22-year-old Kuhn.

“It was tough. I mean, the first round in every tournament is tough,” said Alcaraz, who was playing his first match since his run to the fourth round at Wimbledon.

“I came from the grass, and the difference was too much. I’m really happy to be [through to] the second round. I’m sure that I will be better in the next round, but I’m really happy with the win,” Alcaraz was quoted as saying by atptour.com.

After triumphing in Rio de Janeiro in February and Barcelona in April, Alcaraz is chasing a clean sweep of this season’s clay-court ATP 500 events in Hamburg, while the 19-year-old has also lifted ATP Masters 1000 titles in Miami and Madrid in a stellar 2022 season. Despite struggling to find his best level against Kuhn, the Spaniard was pleased with how he had reacted after a lacklustre first-set showing.

–IANS

inj/bsk

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