Carlos Alcaraz advances at US Open as Sebastian Baez forced to retire with cramps

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Carlos Alcaraz advanced to the second round of the US Open after his opponent was forced to retire early in the third set. Sebastian Baez could barely walk to his bench to shake hands with the third seed after suffering with severe cramping when he got broken at the start of the third, allowing Alcaraz to advance 7-5 7-5 2-0 ret.

Alcaraz reached his maiden Grand Slam quarter-final in his US Open debut 12 months ago as an 18-year-old ranked down at world No 55, upsetting third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas en route. This year he returned to Flushing Meadows as the third seed himself, with four extra titles to his name including two Masters 1000s, and the chance to reach No 1 in the world. 

But the Spaniard had a tough first test in Baez, the in-form Argentine who now sits at world No 37 after starting the year ranked at No 99. The pair met at the Next Gen Finals at the end of 2021 before enjoying breakthrough results this year, with Alcaraz coming through in the first-to-four-games and best-of-five-set format.

The 19-year-old was quick off the mark as he opened with a hold and quickly set up a break point on the Baez serve but was unable to convert it. The rest of the set was neck-and-neck with no more break points until the final came, when the 21-year-old found himself facing two set points while serving at 5-6, with Alcaraz taking the first to close out a 7-5 set.

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