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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday August 16, 2022

Mackenzie McDonald, the 72nd-ranked American who can grind with the best of them, and who generally makes life difficult for any opponent he faces – especially on hard courts – had no luck slowing down the 19-year-old freight train named Carlos Alcaraz on Tuesday night in Cincinnati.

Tennis Express

The Spaniard, who just last week squandered a match point in his first match of the North American hard court swing at Montreal, and vowed to get his act together in rapid fashion, did just that on Grandstand Court, relentlessly pummelling McDonald with pace, power and tactics that set the former UCLA standout on the back foot early and often.

Alcaraz finished up his 6-3, 6-2 triumph, his first at Cincinnati, in a tidy 65 minutes. He dropped a total of seven points on serve and found his way into most of McDonald’s service games, breaking four times on seven opportunities. It was the type of performance that could set the teenager right, as he sets his sights on becoming a mainstay at Masters 1000 events like this week’s Western and Southern Open and, of course, the US Open, which begins on Monday August 29.

For the record the Spaniard has already won two Masters titles already in 2022 - he became the youngest champion in Miami Open history in April, and the youngest at the Madrid Open, where he defeated both Nadal and Djokovic, in May.

The pressure he talks of, and the standard he pursues, will not be approached by most of his peers, but Alcaraz has already proven that he is a shining diamond, even among the cream of the crop of the ATP's generation next.

The teenager talked often after his loss to Tommy Paul in Montreal about dealing with the pressure of being a top player, and he came away pleased that he met his own standard on Tuesday night.

"I'm really happy with the performance today," he said. "One of the goals in this tournament is to grow with the pressure... to enjoy as I did at the beginning of the year and last year. To enjoy playing great tennis, to try to be relaxed. I think in this round I did it and I'm really happy with it."

The fourth-ranked Spaniard improves to 43-8 on the season and wil face either Marin Cilic or Emil Ruusuvuori in the third round

Another step in the right direction, with more, surely, to come.


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