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Carlos Alcaraz praised Jack Draper on Monday night as the Brit gave the world No 1 a run for his money in Basel as the top seed narrowly scraped through 3-6 6-2 7-5 in the first round. It was just the second match that the Spaniard has won since becoming the top-ranked man in tennis.
Alcaraz survived a scare at the Swiss Indoors Basel on Monday night as he came from a set down to defeat Draper in two hours and 17 minutes. The ATP 500 in Switzerland marks the 19-year-old’s second tournament since he became the US Open champion after he lost in the first round of the Astana Open earlier this month.
While the six-time title winner managed to get past his opening match this time around, the world No 45 didn’t make it easy for him. Draper raced to a 6-3 lead in a flawless opening set that saw him make just three unforced errors and break the Alcaraz serve twice before the Spaniard roared back to take the second 6-2.
The top seed then took a break-lead in the decider but the 20-year-old broke back to get things level once more before Alcaraz broke to serve for the match at 6-5, needing three match points to finally close out the victory. And after the match he was full of praise for his opponent as he complimented the young Brit’s game.
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“I knew that Jack is playing great, is a really, really dangerous player,” the US Open champion said after needing more than two hours to get through. While Draper breezed through the second set, Alcaraz confessed that he struggled with the slower court conditions.
“At the beginning of the match it was tough for me, I did a lot of mistakes. I wanted to play really aggressive, on this court for me it’s a little bit slower than other tournaments. I had to handle that, I had to overcome my problems,” he said.
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The youngest world No 1 in ATP history also admitted that he hadn’t had the time to enjoy his new ranking after ascending to the top off the back of his US Open victory. During his on-court interview, Alcaraz said: “I have had several tournaments after the US Open so I have hardly had time to enjoy number one or to have won a Grand Slam.
“Now I have new goals for the end of the season, with new tournaments so I have to be prepared for the next challenges.” The top seed in Basel will now face the winner of a clash between Botic van de Zandschulp and Adrian Mannarino. Alcaraz will then play the Paris Masters 1000 before making his ATP Finals debut in Turin.
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