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Pervez Saleem


Alcaraz survives Madrid Open scare

Courtesy: Dawn News/Reuters/AFP

MADRID: Defending champion Car­los Alcaraz survived a major scare before beating Emil Ruusuvuori in three sets to reach the Madrid Open third round on Friday but admitted he “didn’t know what to do” at key parts of the match.

World number two and US Open champion Alcaraz fought back to see off the 41st-ranked Finn, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.

“It was really tough. I would say I was about to lose,” said Alcaraz who famously defeated Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in Madrid last year.

Alcaraz, fresh from defending his Barcelona title last weekend, will face Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov for a place in the last 16.

In sharp contrast, women’s world number one Iga Swiatek cantered to a 6-3, 6-2 win over Austrian lucky loser Julia Grabher.

Swiatek didn’t play Madrid last year but that didn’t dent her claycourt form as she went on to capture a second French Open later in the season.

After winning the Stuttgart title last weekend, the Pole is riding a five-match winning streak on the surface.

Swiatek will next face American left-hander Bernarda Pera who was a 6-1, 6-3 winner over Germany’s Tatjana Maria.

World number seven Holger Rune saved a match point to defeat Alexander Bublik 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (11-9) while Matteo Ar­n­aldi gained his first victory over a top-10 player as he upset third-seeded Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-4.

Fifth seed Andrey Rublev continued his hot form as he beat Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-4 and will next face Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka, who beat Slovakian Alex Molcan 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

In the women’s tournament, Anna Kalinskaya, ranked 62, defeated seventh seed and Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 It was a third top 10 win for Kalinskaya who next faces 27th seed Petra Martic.

Another Grand Slam champion to exit was 15th seed Victoria Azarenka who was stunned in straight sets by Alycia Parks of the United States.

1- Header image: Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka hits a return to Alycia Parks of the US during their Madrid Open match.—Reuters

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