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Alcaraz pushed to the bitter end by Draper as he wins in his Basel debut
Carlos Alcaraz began his seventh week atop the ATP’s rankings with a win over Jack Draper on his Basel debut.
World No 1 Carlos Alcaraz survived a seesaw battle with rising Brit Jack Draper on Monday in Switzerland, coming through on his debut at Basel 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 to reach the second round.
The 19-year-old Spaniard, last seen dropping a 7-5, 6-3 decision to Belgium’s David Goffin at Astana, improves to 2-2 as the world No 1. More importantly, he is 53-11 on the season with five titles as he commences his seventh week as the youngest world No 1 in ATP history.
Alcaraz says the ranking is not on his mind at the moment; there is much to be done as he plans to make his way through Basel, Paris and Turin – the final three events of what will go down as one of the greatest seasons ever played by a teenager on the ATP Tour.
He spoke his mind on the subject on court after the hard-fought victory over Draper, the 45th-ranked southpaw, who pushed him until the finish.
“It’s great obviously, but I have tournaments ahead so I have no time to enjoy at all the No.1,” Alcaraz said. “I now have new goals at the end of the year, new tournaments, so I have to be focused – I have to be prepared for the new challenges, but obviously it’s a great feeling.”
Adjusting to slower conditions and fighting through
Alcaraz finished the contest with 39 winners against 34 unforced errors, and gradually improved after an opening set in which he produced 16 unforced errors against only 12 winners.
“At the beginning of the match it was tough for me,” Alcaraz admitted. “I did a lot of mistakes at the beginning. I wanted to play really aggressive in this court.”
Alcaraz says the slow conditions in Basel will take some getting used to.
“For me it’s a bit slower than the other tournaments,” he added. “Obviously I have to handle that, I have to work on my problems and, of course, changed my tactics a little bit in the second set.”
After falling behind by a set the Spaniard was strong on serve for a set and a half as he reclaimed control of the match. He led by 4-2 in the third set and had mustered seven consecutive holds of serve before Draper hit back to level the decider at four games apiece.
Alcaraz didn’t flinch, however. He broke for 6-5 in the third and saved a pair of break points before converting his third match point to end the battle after two hours and 17 minutes.
Draper: impressive in defeat
“I knew that Jack is playing great,” Alcaraz said, “He is a really dangerous player and I had to be really focused and of course never give up.”
Draper impressed from start to finish, hitting 27 winners and 12 unforced errors, including nine aces. But he was broken four times across the final two sets, and only won 57 percent of his first serve points in the decider.
Nevertheless it was a strong effort from a player who started his season well outside of the top 200 in the ATP rankings. The 6’4” southpaw, with seasoning and work on his conditioning, could certainly make a run at the top-20, or even higher, in 2023.
Feeling at home in Basel
Alcaraz will face either Botic van de Zandschulp or Adrian Mannarino on Wednesday in Basel. He told the crowd he is extremely happy to make his first trip to Switzerland.
“I played last year in Vienna, this year I wanted to play this year in Basel, to try new tournaments,” he said. “I’ve never been here in Switzerland, I’ve never been in Basel, so I want to try new countries, new tournaments, and of course, after this first match I felt like home.”