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Madrid Open 2024: Defending champion Alcaraz beats Shevchenko, reaches third round

Two-time defending champion Carlos Alcaraz showed no sign of being hampered by a nagging arm injury as he eased to victory in his opening match at the Madrid Open on Friday.

The third-ranked Alcaraz brushed aside Alexander Shevchenko 6-2, 6-1 on the outdoor clay inside the Caja Magica in his first match in nearly a month.

Alcaraz was coming off a right arm injury that kept him from playing in Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He had said this week that he wasn’t sure whether he could play in Madrid.

“I didn’t know how I would feel on the court, and I had my doubts,” Alcaraz said. “I had started practice this week taking things very easy and slowly picking up the intensity, and I still had doubts swimming in my mind. But today there was none of that. I surprised even myself and I am happy with how good I felt.”

This was Alcaraz’s first match since losing to Grigor Dimitrov in the Miami Open quarterfinals nearly one month ago. Madrid is the Spaniard’s first appearance on the European clay court swing — he struggled in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro in February — as he aims to win his first French Open title next month.

The Spaniard said that he would be happy to play “three of four matches” at the ATP 1000 tournament.

ALSO READ | Defending champion Sabalenka struggles through in Madrid Open

Alcaraz, who had a first-round bye, played with a wrapping covering most of his right arm from his wrist up past his elbow.

But he looked pretty much like the same aggressive player who has dominated here for the past two years and given Spanish tennis fans hope that there is life after Rafael Nadal.

Alcaraz broke Shevchenko’s serve four times and will next face Thiago Seyboth Wild after the Brazliian beat Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-4.

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