After practically two full weeks out of motion as he recovered from a proper hamstring damage, Carlos Alcaraz returned to the court docket with the identical elite stage that has characterised his rise to superstardom over the course of the previous yr.
A semi-finalist final season on the BNP Paribas Open, Alcaraz acquired a hero’s welcome on the Indian Wells stadium court docket on Saturday night time. He didn’t disappoint the expectant crowd, delivering along with his all-action recreation in a 6-3, 6-3 victory towards Thanasi Kokkinakis.
“I really feel actually comfy enjoying right here, staying right here. I felt the love since I got here onto the court docket” Alcaraz stated in his post-match interview. “I’ve nice recollections, I made my first semi-finals at a Masters 1000 right here, had that match towards Rafa… It is so particular to come back again right here.”
Pink sizzling from the beginning, Alcaraz dropped only one level on serve within the opening set and broke in his first return recreation as he raced to a 3-0 lead. Set two was tighter, with Kokkinakis efficient in combating energy with energy for stretches, however Alcaraz’s velocity, defence and consistency was an excessive amount of to beat after one other early break.
“I’d say I performed my greatest, aside from every thing: the factors that I’ve to defend, the semi-finals that I’ve to defend,” the 19-year-old stated. “I attempted not to consider that, simply to play my recreation, to take pleasure in enjoying right here. In fact I attempted to make folks take pleasure in watching tennis right here… That is what I preferred from tonight.”
The Spaniard may return to No. 1 within the Pepperstone ATP Rankings on 20 March by profitable the Indian Wells title, which might be his third on the ATP Masters 1000 stage after his triumphs in Madrid and Miami final yr. It’ll take 4 extra wins to perform that feat — a purpose that Alcaraz didn’t draw back from within the buildup to the event.
His subsequent opponent will likely be thirty first seed Tallon Griekspoor, who defeated Guido Pella 7-6(3), 7-6(4) earlier on Saturday. Past that, Andy Murray or Jack Draper would await within the fourth spherical.