Madrid Open 2024 Defending champions Carlos Alcaraz Aryna Sabalenka cruise to third round

Madrid Open 2024

Defending Madrid Open champions Carlos Alcaraz and Aryna Sabalenka both triumphed in their opening clashes in the Spanish capital on Friday to reach the third round.

Alcaraz returned after a month out to begin his double defence with a convincing 6-2, 6-1 win over Alexander Shevchenko, while Sabalenka survived a tense three-set tussle against the in-form Magda Linette.

Men's world number three Alcaraz shone on home clay after a forearm problem led to his withdrawals from the Monte Carlo Masters and Barcelona Open

It's been quite a tough month for me, with the uncertainty over when I'd be back," said Alcaraz. "The priority today was to see how I felt, in a difficult match.

The feelings were very good, and I think I played at a very good level despite coming without rhythm... I am very happy and it's a pleasure to play here in Madrid again

Wearing a protective sleeve on his right arm, two-time Grand Slam winner Alcaraz quickly dispelled any doubts after his time out by flying out of the blocks in the first set with a break

The 20-year-old Spaniard was as exciting as ever, frequently on the attack, and secured a second break in the fifth game for a 4-1 lead

Indian Wells winner Alcaraz hit the net with a drop shot to let the Kazakhstani back in but broke again himself for a 5-2 advantage which he served out.

Alcaraz pulled off two second set breaks for a 3-0 lead but again allowed his 23-year-old opponent to cut the deficit before striking back with a third break, which he consolidated for 5-1.

The 2022 and 2023 Madrid winner and second seed wrapped up his victory in little over an hour with another break when Shevchenko sent a forehand long.

Alcaraz will face Thiago Seyboth Wild in the third round after the Brazilian surprised Lorenzo Musetti 6-4, 6-4

It feels really great after a while to start with a win and I'm happy with my performance," said Rublev, who lost his temper and obliterated his racquet after a first-round exit in Barcelona

German fourth seed Alexander Zverev, the champion in 2018 and 2021, comfortably made the third round with a 6-3, 6-2 win over Borna Coric.