Carlos Alcaraz

Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz recovered from an early stumble to sweep into the third round of Wimbledon on Wednesday, dispatching Australia’s Aleksandar Vukic in straight sets.

The third seed dug deep to take the opening set against his 69th-ranked opponent before shifting impressively through the gears to win 7-6 (7/5), 6-2, 6-2.

From 5-2 up in the first set, the Spaniard briefly lost his way to trail 5-6.

However, with the pressure on, Alcaraz broke back to force a tie-break and from then on it was one-way traffic.

The 21-year-old broke twice in the second set and repeated the feat in set three, pounding a total of 42 winners.

Alcaraz, who beat Novak Djokovic in last year’s Wimbledon final, wrapped up victory in one hour, 48 minutes.

Vukic defeated then 17-year-old Alcaraz in qualifying at Roland Garros in 2020 but could not repeat the feat on the grass at the All England Club.

“I’m really happy about my performance today,” said Alcaraz. “The first set was the key for me. He served for the set, then I played a really good tie-break.

“In the second set and third set, I played a really high level so I’m really happy about it.”

The three-time Grand Slam champion is bidding to become just the sixth man after Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic to win the French Open and Wimbledon titles back to back.

He next faces Frances Tiafoe, the American player he defeated in five sets in the semi-finals of the 2022 US Open on his way to his first Grand Slam triumph.

The Spaniard said he would “put on a show” against Tiafoe, ranked 29th.

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“I’m going for him,” he said. “We played a really good match in the US Open.

“I know he is a really talented player, a tough one, even tougher on grass with his style. Good volley, good slices. It is going to be a very difficult match for me.

“I’m ready to take that challenge.” (AFP/Channels)