Wimbledon 2022: Carlos Alcaraz proves why he’s tennis’ next superstar in round one thriller

NationalWorld headed down to Court One at Wimbledon 2022 to check out rising Carlos Alcaraz - we were not left disappointed.

After months of preparation, anticipation and expectation the day was finally here: the British Grand Slam and iconic Championships opened its doors at the All England Lawn and Tennis Club in the famous SW19 location of Wimbledon Park.

Spectators swanned in (or maybe waited for ages in a queue before their swanning could commence) full of excitement that the South London tennis club was going to be overflowing with tennis stars from all around the world, fighting for their place on the iconic Centre Court in just under two weeks.

For many, the day starts with purchasing the traditional Pimm’s - because nothing else quite fits the aesthetic of the day than an overpriced fruity beverage - before settling on one court or another ready for the action to begin.

Some may have been lucky enough to acquire Centre Court tickets and see Novak Djokovic open up his title-defending campaign, before watching Emma Raducanu ease her way through the first round and finally witness former British number one Andy Murray win his first round match in four sets.

Others may have lamented the fact they were missing seeing such iconic tennis stars as they consoled themselves on Court Number One, hoping that the number three seed Ons Jabeur would fill the void of Djokovic, Raducanu or Murray.

As exciting as it is watching one of the world’s best tennis players in action, her 6-1 6-3 win over Mirjam Bjorklund wasn’t quite the nail-biter that can make tennis such an intense sport.

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However, little did we know that what was to come would be enough to satisfy anyone for an entire tournament.

Alcaraz serves against Struff

The Tunisian finished up her match within an hour and the feeling of ‘job done, onto the next one’ quickly came across in her post-match interview. The crowd had a short pause to replenish their Pimm’s or indulge in the essential strawberries and cream before the next two competitors came onto the court.

The young Spanish firecracker Carlos Alcaraz was up against the number 149 and 32-year-old Jan-Lennard Struff, in what many might have expected to be a similarly flat contest to Jabeur’s midday stroll against Bjorklund.

How wrong you would have been.

What proceeded was one of the hardest fought battles that has been seen at such early stages in the tournament.

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The 19-year-old Alcaraz has been quickly speeding up through the ranks and 2022 has seen the Spaniard beat both Djokovic and Nadal as well as winning three ATP titles.

He had been fast becoming a rising star of the tennis world, but his match today has surely solidified him as a soon to be superstar.

The fire and passion of the young Spaniard was beautifully balanced by the steadiness and composure of his German opponent and it became a battle between youthful energy and maturing experience.

Struff broke Alcaraz’s serve early in the first set to take a 1-0 lead early on, but the roaring support of the crowd ensured Alcaraz would come back fighting - he eventually broke the German’s serve in time to avoid a tie break and won the second set 7-5.

Struff was far from finished, however, and some wild shots from the teeanger gave away his serve and the 6ft 4 German came out on top once again.

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With nearly every game flitting between deuce and advantage (to the point that it seemed even the Umpire found it ridiculous) it was unbelievable to see how either star had any energy left to persevere.

But so they did, and the inevitable tie break came in the fourth set with Alcaraz once again evening out the scores.

Alcaraz and Struff embrace after a hard fought first round match

Into the fifth set they went and finally, after four hours and 10 minutes of what had been an unimaginable tennis match on the first day of the SW19 tournament, with the entirety of the crowd barely able to sit on their seats such was the intensity, Alcaraz broke the German’s serve once more and was now in command to take the final game set and match.

When that final match point was won, the crowd as one rose to their feet enthusiastically applauding both players, in the knowledge that they had just witnessed something extraordinary - a spectacle that they are unlikely to see again any time soon.

The 19-year-old was struggling to get through his post-match interview as the cheers and screams from the crowd took over, leaving the teenager with a beaming smile.

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Alcaraz already had a strong contingent of fans coming into this tournament, but his engagement with the crowd and the magnitude of the performance converted any sceptical observers to believe he will soon take over from his compatriot, Rafael Nadal, as one of the fiercest, most loved stars on the circuit.