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Carlos Alcaraz US Open 2021

‘I was really nervous’ – Carlos Alcaraz settles himself in Next Gen ATP Finals debut

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Carlos Alcaraz has played his first match since facing an intimidating atmosphere in his match against Hugo Gaston at the Paris Masters.

The Spanish star is looking to finish his breakout ATP season with a flourish at the Next Gen ATP Finals event.

Alcaraz has started strong, ousting Holger Rune 4-3 (8-6), 4-2, 4-0 to kick off his campaign in Milan.

Since Jannik Sinner decided not to compete, Alcaraz is the top seed at the 21-and-under tournament.

Following a tense opening set, the 18-year-old drew confidence from clinching it to go on and close out the match.

“The first set was so close,” Alcaraz began in his post-match interview. “[Rune] had chances to win the set. I think it was a great match. Both of us played really well.

“I try to stay calm [in the big moments]. This is new for me. I was really nervous at the beginning.”

The last Next Gen ATP Finals took place in 2019, with 2020 cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

In fact, with defending champion Sinner not present, all eight competitors this year are debutants.

The unique format of the event, as well as its exhibition status in not carrying any ATP points, give players there freedom to experiment with their game.

“To have [variety] on court is so important,” Alcaraz continued. “I’m trying to go to the net, to play aggressive in the important moments.

“Stay calm and go for the point. I’m trying to do this every match.”

Alcaraz will also play world number 63 Brandon Nakashima and 91st ranked Juan Manuel Cerundolo in his group, Group A.

Sebastian Korda, Hugo Gaston, Lorenzo Musetti and Sebastian Baez make up Group B.

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Carlos Alcaraz US Open 2021
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