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Rio Open: Alcaraz stuns Fognini to sail into quarterfinals

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | February 24, 2023 11:13 AM

Rio de Janeiro:Reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz of Spain survived a two-hour and 47-minute battle against Italy's Fabio Fognini to secure a spot in the quarterfinals of the ATP 500 Rio Open, here.

In a rematch of their 2022 Rio de Janeiro semifinal, Alcaraz earned an entertaining 6-7(5), 6-2, 6-4 victory, improving to 6-0 on the season on Thursday night.

"It's always a challenge to play Fabio. He's such a talented player and we never know what he's going to do. It was a match with highs and lows. I started pretty well but I missed some opportunities and when you're playing against someone like him you can't afford to do that. It was a long and tough match and I think that in the end I was a bit better physically," Alcaraz was quoted as saying by the tournament's website.

The world no. 2 will next face Dusan Lajovic after the Serbian defeated countryman Laslo Djere 6-2, 6-4 to reach his second quarter-final of the season.

Top seed at the Rio Open, the 19-year-old is bidding to become the first repeat Rio champion in the tournament's history. Last year Alcaraz won the first of his five titles during the season at Jockey Club Brasileiro on his way to finishing as the youngest number one in the history of the ATP rankings.

Fognini, who won all five of his break points, was seeking his first win in his past 14 attempts against Top 10 opponents.

Alcaraz has an opportunity to tie World No. 1 Novak Djokovic by winning the Rio Open. However, the Spaniard cannot return to World No. 1 next week.

When two players are tied for the same spot in the ATP Rankings, the first tie-break goes to the player who has more points at the mandatory events -- ATP Finals, Grand Slams and ATP Masters 1000s.

Therefore, even if Alcaraz defends his Rio title and matches the number of points Djokovic will have Monday (6,980), the Serbian will remain No. 1 and the Spaniard No. 2.


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