Carlos Alcaraz comes through tough assignment in Hamburg: ‘I’m sure that I will be better in the next round’

Carlos Alcaraz plays a shot

The switch from grass back to clay did not go as smoothly as Carlos Alcaraz would have liked, but all that matters for the world No 6 is that he is into the next round of the Hamburg European Open after overcoming Nicola Kuhn.

Playing in his first match since losing in the fourth round at Wimbledon, Alcaraz made a sluggish start in his debut match at the ATP 500 event as world No 259 Kuhn took the opening set before the Spaniard got his act together to secure a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-3) win in two hours and 22 minutes.

After saving three break points in game five, Kuhn stunned the top seed as he broke in the next game before serving it out to love.

But the reaction from the 19-year-old Alcaraz was brilliant as he raced into a 5-0 lead in the second set on the back of a double break before serving it out to love himself.

The decider was a tight affair with Alcaraz saving a break point in game two before Kuhn required a medical timeout after the third game to receive treatment on his thigh.

Kuhn struggled for the remainder of the match, but he saved two break points in game five before the match was settled by the tie-breaker.

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“It was tough. I mean, the first round in every tournament is tough,” Alcaraz said. “I came from the grass, and the difference was too much. I’m really happy to be [through to] the second round. I’m sure that I will be better in the next round, but I’m really happy with the win.”

He added: “I knew that I wasn’t playing well, so I knew I was going to have my chances to get better in the second set. Try not to miss as much as I did in the first set. I’m really happy with the change that I put in in the second set.”

Up next is either Sebastian Baez from Argentina or Serbian Filip Krajinovic while the winner of the second-round clash could face seventh seed Karen Khachanov or Fabio Fognini in the quarter-final.

Khachanov also had to work for his win as he defeated German wildcard Jan-Lennard Struff 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) while Fognini notched up his 400th ATP Tour win with 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Aljaz Bedene.

Third seed Diego Schwartzman crashed out as the Argentine suffered a 7-5, 6-4 defeat at the hands of Emil Ruusuvuori from Finland.