02:12 PM GMT February 17, 2020
Sixteen-year-old Carlos Alcaraz was up way past his bedtime on Monday night, but it was for a very good reason. The teenager won his ATP Tour debut at the Rio Open presented by Claro, defeating fellow Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(2) in a first-round match that finished at 3:00am after three hours and 37 minutes.
"I will remember Rio forever," Alcaraz said. "I am very happy to win my first ATP Tour match. This has been the longest and most intense match I've played so far. There were quite difficult conditions, but if you have the right attitude, the conditions don't matter. You can achieve anything."
Alcaraz, No. 406 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, is coached by former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero and has already been making noise on the ATP Challenger Tour. Last year, the then-15-year-old defeated reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Jannik Sinner at a Challenger in Alicante, becoming the first player born in the year 2003 to win a match at that level.
The teenager had never faced a player inside the Top 100 and was a clear underdog against the experienced World No. 41 Ramos-Vinolas. But he showed maturity well beyond his years with his shot selection and appeared unfazed at the magnitude of the occasion.
"I always have positive thoughts. I always think I can win, no matter who the opponent is," Alcaraz said. "If you don't think you can win, you shouldn't go on the court."
Using heavy topspin backhands to set up his potent forehand, Alcaraz took the opening set in a tie-break and broke his opponent for a 3-2 lead in the second set. Ramos-Vinolas fought back strongly, adding more pace to his shots and asserting himself more in their lengthy rallies. The veteran earned the break back in the next game and Alcaraz produced a rare moment of loose tennis serving at 4-5, double faulting to send the match into a decider.
It appeared that the physicality of their match might be too much for the young Spaniard. Ramos-Vinolas raced to a 3-0 lead in the final set and held three break points for a 4-0 advantage. Shockingly, Alcaraz found another burst of energy and went on a five-game run with aggressive baseline play.
Ramos-Vinolas saved two match points on his serve at 3-5 and Alcaraz showed nerves for the first time all evening as he was broken to love in the next game. But the teenager regrouped and stepped up once more in the final-set tie-break. Alcaraz dropped his racquet and put his hands to his face after Ramos-Vinolas sent a forehand into the net on his fourth match point.
Alcaraz will next face Argentine qualifier Federico Coria, who saved two match points at 5-6 in the final set to upset Frenchman Corentin Moutet 1-6, 7-6(1), 7-6(3).
Third-seeded Chilean Cristian Garin was pushed to the brink, but converted his eighth match point to outlast Slovakian Andrej Martin in a thrilling 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(5) first-round battle.
Garin fought back from 2-4 in the final set, but let slip four match points with Martin serving at 5-6. The Chilean built a 6/2 lead in the tie-break and made good on his last chance to prevail after three hours and 10 minutes.
He is now on a five-match winning streak after taking the title two weeks ago in Cordoba (d. Schwartzman). Next up for Garin is Argentine Federico Delbonis, who scored a convincing 6-2, 6-4 win over Spaniard Roberto Carballes Baena.
#NextGenATP Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild dug deep to score the biggest win of his career on home soil, saving three match points to outlast Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 5-7, 7-6(3), 7-5 after three hours and 51 minutes. The 19-year-old Seyboth Wild, No. 206 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, earned his second ATP Tour main draw win and his first at an ATP 500 event.
Seyboth Wild let slip a 5-3 lead in the first set and nearly did the same in the second set, squandering a set point on his serve at 5-4 before staring down triple match point at 5-6. But the 19-year-old dug deep, erasing the first two match points with winners and removing the third with a delicate drop volley that caused the Spaniard to crash into the net while attempting to track it down.
He continued to pour it on the tie-break and quickly built a 6/2 lead. Davidovich Fokina erased one set point with an underarm ace, but the crowd was on its feet after the Spaniard sent a backhand wide to level the match.
The underarm serve...— ATP Tour (@atptour) February 18, 2020
👍 or 👎? pic.twitter.com/UyiVPVzb8a
It appeared that Seyboth Wild would race through the final set after charging to a 3-0 lead, but Davidovich Fokina responded by going on a four-game run. With the crowd inside Quadra Guga Kuerten becoming more vocal in their support, Seyboth Wild dug deep and tied the score at 4-4 by breaking his opponent with a strong forehand approach.
The Brazilian collapsed to the ground in delight after a forehand error from the Spaniard ended their dramatic first-round clash. Seyboth Wild awaits the winner of fifth-seeded Croatian Borna Coric and Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero.
Pablo Andujar scored the upset of the day by defeating ninth seed Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 6-3 in an all-Spanish battle. Andujar broke Verdasco five times en route to tying their ATP Head2Head series at 3-3.
Awaiting him in the second round is another Spaniard in qualifier Pedro Martinez, who rallied to defeat Bolivian Hugo Dellien 3-6, 6-2, 7-5. The 22-year-old is still flawless (4-0) in first-round matches this season.
Alcaraz becomes the youngest:
• Player to win an ATP 500 match in series history (since 2009).
• Player to win an ATP Tour match since Cristian Garin at 2013 Vina del Mar.
• Spaniard to win an ATP Tour match since Rafael Nadal at 2002 Mallorca.
• Player to beat a Top 50 opponent in an ATP Tour match since Richard Gasquet defeated No. 49 Feliciano Lopez at 2003 Marseille.
• Player to beat an opponent ranked as high as No. 41 in an ATP Tour match since David Skoch defeated No. 41 Fabrice Santoro at 1993 Prague.