Carlos Alcaraz looks at home on the grass in first-round win over Jeremy Chardy
World number one Carlos Alcaraz laid down a serious Wimbledon marker with a three-set defeat of Jeremy Chardy in the first round.
The 20-year-old Spaniard is seen as the most realistic challenger to Novak Djokovic’s bid for an eighth title this fortnight.
He proved his blossoming grass-court credentials by winning at Queen’s last weekend, and then produced an impressive all-round display, dismantling Chardy for two sets before digging in to take the third for a 6-0 6-2 7-5 win under the roof on Court One.
Chardy had announced he would retire after the Championships, with the London-based Frenchman calling time on his career 18 years after winning the Wimbledon boys’ title.
The 36-year-old, who reached a career high of 25 in the world, had said beforehand the match would “be a great end, no matter what”.
He may have revised that opinion after a first set which lasted just 22 minutes and in which he could not buy a first serve, throwing in seven double-faults to hand Alcaraz a bagel for lunch.
The match began at just after 1pm, but it was nearly quarter-to-two by the time Chardy finally got a game on the board.
Alcaraz had only ever played six matches on grass before Queen’s. But, all venomous serves, thunderous forehands, sliced backhands and the occasional beautifully disguised drop shot, he now looks ominously at home on the surface.
Chardy was two sets behind after less than an hour, yet, out of the blue and willed on by a crowd wanting to see at least something of a contest, he converted a break point at the fourth attempt to lead 4-2 in the third.
It was a fleeting show of defiance, however, with Alcaraz breaking straight back and going on to complete the victory in an hour and 53 minutes.
“I think I played really well at the beginning of the match but in the third set he showed his level,” said Alcaraz.
“I like to play rallies and battles, let’s say, and I’m really happy to have played at a great level and get through this first round.
“Without the roof and sun it’s better for me and everyone, but I have to be really focused. The sound of the ball with the roof is beautiful.”
While play was possible on the two show courts, only an hour’s action took place on the outside courts due to persistent rain.
That meant only Andy Murray, Cameron Norrie, Quentin Halys and Tomas Martin Etcheverry were able to join Alcaraz as winners in the men’s singles on Tuesday.
Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will resume a set down against former world number three Dominic Thiem.