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Spain's Carlos Alcaraz celebrates his victory over Italy's Lorenzo Sonego on day five of the Australian Open in Melbourne on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Melbourne: Second seed Carlos Alcaraz endured a tricky test before finding his groove to overcome Italian Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(3) at the Australian Open on Thursday and make the third round on a day of epic battles.

After fellow seeds Casper Ruud, Alexander Zverev and Cameron Norrie all huffed and puffed to five-set wins over lower-ranked opponents, the 20-year-old Spaniard was tested by the wind against the unseeded Sonego.

High intensity game

“I’m really happy with my performance today,” Alcaraz said. “I think both of us played a really high level, high intensity, the match was a little tricky with the wind and the sun.”

The double Grand Slam champion, who missed last year’s tournament due to injury, took the opening set with a single break, then in the next set let Sonego off the hook in the ninth game, and was unable to recover from 5-1 down in the tiebreak.

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Alcaraz will take on Chinese wild card Shang Juncheng in the next round after a close win against Sonego. Image Credit: Reuters

Improved opponent

The Italian, ranked 46 in the world, won the pair’s only previous clash in 2021, when Alcaraz was outside the top 50. But the 28-year-old was put through the wringer by his vastly improved opponent’s heavy forehands to lose the third set.

In a fourth set where both players were at their entertaining best, Sonego surrendered serve early on, but Alcaraz raised his game to reel off the points in the tiebreak and go through in style.

“It was tough to play your best but we tried to stay there all the time, even if I lost the second set,” said Alcaraz, who will face Chinese wild card Shang Juncheng next.