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Alcaraz beats Gasquet in Australian Open first round, Bublik crashes out

Carlos Alcaraz has never made any noise of note at the Australian Open. In fact, last year he didn’t even play.

Alcaraz hopes that changes in 2023. So far, so good. Alcaraz returned to Melbourne in victorious style on Tuesday night, defeating Richard Gasquet 7-6(5), 6-1, 6-2 in two hours and 22 minutes. The 21-year-old Spaniard cracked nine aces, saved both of the break points he faced, and finished with more than twice as many winners as unforced errors (53 to 26).

“In the first set I struggled a little bit with his game,” Alcaraz commented. “Richard was playing great, as well, but every set I [played] better and better and in the end I played quite a good level…. He’s been around forever. He’s an amazing player. He has a lot of talent. His backhand is amazing; it’s crazy. He did a pretty good first set and then I [played] my own game.”

Nine of 10 seeded players in the men’s draw on Tuesday joined Alcaraz in in the second round. The only exception was Alexander Bublik, who exited at the hands of qualifier Sumit Nagal. The 31st-ranked Kazakh double-faulted nine times and was broken six times en route to a 6-4, 6-2, 7-6(5) setback.

“You can talk about my spirit,” said Nagal, who is listed at 5’10” and 152 pounds and registers at 137th in the world. “But i it’s also true that I’m not a very tall guy, so every game is important–every point becomes important. If I get a small chance to put pressure on a big server like Sascha, I should take it. He can play incredible tennis for 15 minutes and for the next 15 he can give you some free points; because of [that] you fight for every point.”

Nagal is the first Indian man to beat a seeded opponent at a major since the 1989 Aussie Open (Ramesh Krishnan d. Mats Wilander).

Although the seeds mostly dominated on Tuesday, there was some drama on offer. Five matches went five sets, including a dramatic 7-6(1), 2-6, 6-7(4), 6-1, 7-6(10-8) win for Thanasi Kokkinakis over Sebastian Ofner.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.