Alcaraz cruises to opening win at Barcelona Open

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BARCELONA, Spain — Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz opened his title defense at the Barcelona Open with a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over Nuno Borges on Tuesday.

The top-seeded Alcaraz, No. 2 in the world, converted five of his seven break opportunities to secure the win at the Rafa Nadal center court.

“It’s always different to play here, it’s not just any other tournament for me,” said Alcaraz, 19. “I’m at home, with the fans behind me. It’s always nice and special.”

A two-time winner this year, Alcaraz is making his debut on clay-court tournaments this season.

Earlier, Casper Ruud reached the quarterfinals for a second straight year by beating Ben Shelton 6-2, 7-6 (1).

The third-seeded Norwegian lost to Shelton last year in Cincinnati, where the American was a relatively unknown college player ranked 229th in the world.

“I wanted my revenge,” Ruud said. “Different surface, different continent, different tournament … I felt like I had a little bit more time here to build the points on clay, which is normal.”

Shelton, 20, who had his breakout tournament in Cincinnati, made his first appearances in clay-court tournaments this season and has reached No. 37 in the world. He was eliminated in the first round in Monte Carlo and in the second round in Estoril.

Ruud won his first title of the year in Estoril this month. He will next face 15th-seeded Francisco Cerúndolo or Francesco Passaro, who defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-1 on Tuesday.

Also, Diego Schwartzman defeated Wu Yibing 6-2, 6-2 to set up second-round matchup against fourth-seeded Jannik Sinner.

David Goffin beat Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (3), 6-7 (4), 6-0, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina defeated Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-3, 6-3.

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