Alcaraz Begins Wimbledon Quest, Sends Chardy Into Retirement
Under the roof on Court 1, the Spaniard overpowered the 36-year-old Frenchman with his destructive groundstrokes, sealing a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory in one hour and 53 minutes.
“I think I played really well at the beginning of the match,” said Alcaraz in his on-court interview. “In the third set, he found his level. I was in trouble, but I like to play rallies, I like to play battles, and I’m really happy to have played a great level. Both of us in the third set. It was really close, but I’m really happy to get through this first round.”
The 2022 US Open champion Alcaraz is chasing his second major title this fortnight, and he could not have made a better start to his Wimbledon title bid, with his main scare coming at the start of the first set when he slipped on the slick court.
After shaking out his leg, Alcaraz quickly bounced to his feet and from there it was one-way traffic, with Chardy unable to deal with the Spaniard's pace off the ground. The Frenchman struck seven double faults in the first set as he showed signs of nerves, but did play with more freedom as the match went on, breaking Alcaraz to lead 4-2 in the third set.
The 36-year-old was unable to sustain any serious pressure on Alcaraz in their first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting, though, with the top seed rolling off five of the next six games to advance.
“[The roof] doesn’t change too much for me,” said Alcaraz. “I try not to think about it. Obviously without the roof, with sun, is much better for me, I think for everyone as well, but I have to be really focused. With the roof or not, I have to show my best level, but I think the sound of the ball with the roof is really beautiful as well. Even more beautiful playing on grass. I think we hit the ball really cleanly, and it’s so beautiful to play.”
Alcaraz, who holds a 41-4 record on the season, will next meet Arthur Rinderknech or Alexandre Muller. The 20-year-old arrived at SW19 in strong form, having lifted his maiden tour-level grass-court title at The Queen’s Club last month. He is making his third appearance at Wimbledon, where he advanced to the fourth round last year.>
If Alcaraz clinches his sixth tour-level title of the season at The Championships, he will remain at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Chardy's storied 18-year singles career on Tour came to an end following his defeat. The Frenchman lifted his only tour-level trophy in Stuttgart in 2009 and reached a career-high No. 25 in 2013. The 36-year-old, who is now coaching countryman Ugo Humbert, also won seven tour-level doubles titles.
While he received blow after blow against Alcaraz on Court 1, the Frenchman enjoyed a special moment when he earned his first game of the match at 0-6, 1-2, receiving a standing ovation from the packed crowd. Chardy was also cheered on by his wife, Susan, and son, Stone.