At the jam-packed Madrid Open crowd, Carlos Alcaraz yelled, “Vamos! Vamos! Vamos!” while clenching both fists.
When Alcaraz encounters difficulty, his war cry of “Let's go!” in Spanish gives him motivation and energises his supporters. It worked this time.
In his first encounter on Friday, the reigning champion made it through a more difficult than anticipated test against 41st-ranked Emil Ruusuvuori.
Before he persevered and defeated his Finnish opponent with scores of 2-6 6-4 6-2, Alcaraz was on the verge of an early upset.
The 19-year-old Spanish player, who will be 20 next week, held on at 3-3 in the second set after fending off five break opportunities in a crucial game. Alcaraz earned his maiden break in the next game, swinging the second-round contest in his favour.
Alcaraz humorously apologised for the near call to the supportive audience.
Alcaraz stated, “It wasn't only a fright for them; it was (a fear) for me, too.
“I'm simply glad I was able to pull off this really challenging victory. People might believe that I should have an easy time winning or stay out of trouble during matches, but each one is its own world. The contest was quite challenging. Simply maintain your composure, take each bad situation as it comes, and work to make things better.
On the women's side, No. 1 Iga Swiatek defeated Austria's Julia Grabher 6-3, 6-2 after converting three of her five break chances.
Alcaraz, rated No. 2, came after successfully defending his Barcelona Open title the previous weekend and has a chance to overtake Novak Djokovic, who is out with an injury like Rafael Nadal.
Miami's hard court saw Ruusuvuori defeat Alcaraz in 2021. A year after winning the Florida event, Alcaraz went on to win in Barcelona and Madrid as part of a historic season that concluded with his U.S. Open title.
But nobody anticipated Ruusuvuori would put Alcaraz through such a difficult test on the Madrid clay.
Ruusuvuori's backhand into the net and subsequent loss of his opening service game of the third set ended any chance of a tie. Alcaraz added more of it to strengthen his position.
Alcaraz defeated Gregoire Barrere with a score of 6-0 5-7 6-3 and will now take on Grigor Dimitrov.
Additionally, Italian qualifier Matteo Arnaldi defeated third-seeded Casper Ruud 6-3, 6-4.
Stan Wawrinka was defeated by fifth-seeded Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-4, and the Monte Carlo champion improved to 9-1 on clay this year.
Third-seeded Jessica Pegula, who reached to the final of the women's competition in Madrid last year, defeated Polish qualifier Magdalena Frech 7-6 (5) 6-3.