At 21, Flavio Cobolli is a normal player. He is ranked 159th in the world, plays challenger tournaments and tries to break through in tennis. In fact, until Monday he had never entered the final draw of a Grand Slam tournament. It is not he who has summoned all these people to the Suzanne Lenglen on a clear Parisian spring afternoon. On the other side is the real protagonist. A year younger, Carlos Alcaraz is far from being a normal tennis player. No one had been so early as the tournament's top seed since Bjorn Borg, with 19, in 1976. The Swede won the tournament six times. Alcaraz is the favorite to take it for the first time. In his third outing he started with a 6-0, 6-2, 7-5 victory, in one hour and 57 minutes.

Neither the light wind nor the dimensions of the track, with less space to develop behind the line, alter the script of the Spaniard, who leaves soon with two breaks, almost without realizing it. Winner in Barcelona and Madrid with a solvency that intimidates, he begins to show left and accelerations with the right, to the joy of an audience that is no longer amazed, that knows him, although perhaps he has not yet had the opportunity to see him live. The "Allez Carlos!" comes from the lips of a boy.

There is applause for Cobolli, because the party runs the risk of remaining in a sigh. Not only will the occurrences of the world number 1 be rewarded, but also any display of pride of the aspirant, who wins his first game, the fourth of the second set, smiles, then grits his teeth, raises the racket and receives recognition from the stands. A man is measured against a child. The ball speed, the exuberance, the authority with which it is handled...


What else to say? Obligatory reminder in each of his matches: third stage as number 1 in the world, already champion of the US Open, ten titles, four of them Masters 1000, 31 victories and only three defeats in 2023 ... This first round was an exercise in annihilation. Alcaraz was coming off a third-round loss in Rome to Hungary's Fabian Marozsan, 135th. A defeat without major consequences. A break in a hectic season.

Alcaraz comes out 1-2 and 15-40 in the third set. He doesn't want to waste energy. He does this by appealing to his prowess. He moves Cobolli up and down, from side to side, brings him and pushes him, almost, written with the utmost respect, as if it were an articulated toy. But the Italian saves three match balls in the ninth game and gets loose, delaying what is to date the most beautiful day of his career.

A few hours after Djokovic's victory against Kovacevic (6-3, 6-2, 7-6) in the Philippe Chatrier, Alcaraz puts ground in between against another weak opponent. He awaits in the third round the Japanese Taro Daniel, 112th, on Wednesday. Last year, the current top seed for the title stayed in the quarterfinals against Alexander Zverev. Things have changed a lot. And for good.

  • tennis
  • Carlos Alcaraz
  • Articles Javier Martínez

According to the criteria of The Trust Project

Learn more