Rising star Carlos Alcaraz showed what the fuss is all about with a quick and clean first-round victory in the main stadium at Roland Garros on Sunday.
The 19-year-old from Spain never faced a break point while beating Juan Ignacio Londero 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 in less than two hours at the French Open.
Alcaraz, who is seeded No. 6, compiled more than twice as many winners as Londero (22-10) and also made fewer unforced errors in a match that concluded under the artificial lights at Court Philippe Chatrier.
Londero was not necessarily the toughest opponent: He is ranked 141st and lost in qualifying in Paris but got into the main draw when someone else withdrew from the tournament.
But Alcaraz displayed some of the shot-making and steadiness that have carried him to a tour-leading four titles and a 29-3 record in 2022. He is the youngest man to reach the top 10 in the rankings since Rafael Nadal in 2005.
Two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem’s losing streak reached 10 matches with a first-round exit at Roland Garros as he works his way back from a torn tendon in his right wrist.
Thiem bowed out 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 against Hugo Dellien, a Bolivian ranked 87th who entered the match with a 2-7 career record in Grand Slam matches.
The situation has become dire enough that Thiem, a 28-year-old Austrian once ranked No. 3 but now No. 194, acknowledged perhaps it’s time for him to head to the lower-level Challenger Tour to get a win and gain some confidence.
After lamenting his forehand, his backhand and a too-low first-serve percentage, Thiem got to the bigger issue:
“Sometimes, I do really stupid decisions during the rally, drop shots or down-the-line (groundstrokes) at the wrong moment. (In) match match situations, I’m not playing well. … Then, for example, there was one game today where I did four or five forehand return mistakes in a row, where I’m thinking, ‘What the heck is happening?”’
Thiem won the 2020 US Open and was the runner-up at three other majors. He lost to Nadal in the finals of the 2018 and 2019 French Opens, and to Novak Djokovic in the final of the 2020 Australian Open.
But Thiem’s last victory anywhere on tour came at Rome in May 2021. He is 0-6 this year.
Avoiding that sort of result was the men’s No. 9 seed, Felix Auger-Aliassime, who took care of two missing items on his resume in one afternoon: He picked up a French Open victory for the first time in three tries and he won a match after dropping the opening two sets.
The 20-year-old Canadian came back to eliminate Juan Pablo Varillas, a qualifier from Peru making his Grand Slam debut, by a score of 2-6, 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-3.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.