Barcelona, April 19
Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz opened his title defense at the Barcelona Open with a comfortable 6-3, 6-1 win over Nuno Borges.
The top-seeded Spaniard, No. 2 in the world, converted five of his seven break opportunities to secure the win at the Rafa Nadal center court on Tuesday.
“It’s always different to play here, it’s not just any other tournament for me,” the 19-year-old Alcaraz said. “I’m at home, with the fans behind me. It’s always nice and special.”
A two-time winner this year, Alcaraz is making his 2023 debut on the European clay-court tour. He had not competed since Miami in March, skipping Monte Carlo because of inflammation in his left hand and back pain.
“I feel great,” Alcaraz said. “Moving well, hitting the ball really well so I feel a lot of confidence playing here in Barcelona.”
Alcaraz’s next opponent will be fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, the 13th-seed who defeated Bernabe Zapata Miralles 6-2, 6-2.
Fifth-seeded American Frances Tiafoe lost 6-4, 6-7 (3), 6-4 to Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland. The 40th-ranked Ruusuvuori rallied from 3-0 down in the final set.
Earlier, Casper Ruud reached the quarterfinals for a second straight year by beating Ben Shelton 6-2, 7-6 (1).
The third-seeded Norwegian lost to Shelton last year in Cincinnati, where the American was a relatively unknown college player ranked 229th in the world.
“I wanted my revenge,” Ruud said. “Different surface, different continent, different tournament … I felt like I had a little bit more time here to build the points on clay, which is normal.”
The 20-year-old Shelton, who had his breakout tournament in Cincinnati, made his first appearances in clay-court tournaments this season and has reached No. 37 in the world. He was eliminated in the first round in Monte Carlo and in the second round in Estoril.
Ruud won his first title of the year in Estoril this month. He will next face 15th-seeded Francisco Ceruacute;ndolo or Francesco Passaro, who defeated Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-1 on Tuesday.
Also, Diego Schwartzman defeated Wu Yibing 6-2, 6-2 to set up second-round matchup against fourth-seeded Jannik Sinner.
David Goffin beat Feliciano Lopez 7-6 (3), 6-7 (4), 6-0, while Alejandro Davidovich Fokina defeated Tomas Martin Etcheverry 6-3, 6-3. Qualifier Matteo Arnaldi defeated Jaume Munar 6-3, 6-4.