The step was way too high. Despite a tight first set, Richard Gasquet was unable to withstand one of the leading roles in world tennis, the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. For his entry into his seventeenth Australian Open, the Biterrois logically lost to the number two seed, in three sets (6-7, 1-6, 2-6), Tuesday 16 January. Helpless, the Frenchman remained on the court at the Rod Laver Arena for 2 hours and 22 minutes.

This meeting was one of the highlights of this first round. A clash of generations between Richard Gasquet, 37, recently out of the world top 100, and Carlos Alcaraz, 20, already winner of two Grand Slam tournaments. The two players had already met in the final of the ATP 250 in Umag (Croatia), for a clear victory for the Spaniard (6-2, 6-2).

This January 16, Richard Gasquet was condemned to the feat. From the outset, the match was complicated for the Frenchman, who saved three break points in the first game. Despite his backhand as elegant as ever, the former world number 7 did not manage to break Carlos Alcaraz’s defense .

In difficulty facing the power of the Iberian’s shots, “Richie” nevertheless resisted the entire first set, responding to the Spaniard with shots worthy of his best years. He only gave in in the decisive game (5-7). An effort that the Frenchman will then pay for. The next two sets were one-sided. In the next round, Carlos Alcaraz will challenge the Italian Lorenzo Sonego.

Great firsts for Fils and Cazaux

This third day of competition provides an almost perfect assessment for the other French people involved. Arthur Fils, world number 34, had two contested first sets against the Czech Jiri Vesely, solid on serve. Under around thirty degrees, the 293rd player in the ATP ranking suffered a heat stroke towards the end of the second set, and failed to contain the enthusiasm of the Habs. The 19-year-old Frenchman thus won his first career success in Melbourne (4-3, 7-5, 6-2, 6-3).

The feat of the day is attributed to Arthur Cazaux. The 21-year-old Frenchman defeated Serbian Laslo Djere, world number 33, in five sets and 3 hours 26 minutes of play. The Montpellier native had until then won only one match on the main circuit – against Adrian Mannarino in 2021, in Geneva. He thus won his first Grand Slam victory. In the next round, the Frenchman will have nothing to lose against the Dane Holger Rune, seeded number 8.

Grégoire Barrere, for his part, lost in a little less than an hour and a half against the American Tommy Paul (2-6, 3-6, 3-6), who had reached the last four of the competition in 2023, beaten by Novak Djokovic.

In the women’s tournament, Océane Dodin, 95th in the WTA rankings, delivered a very good match to beat the number 29 seed, the Chinese Lin Zhu (6-4, 6-3). Despite discomfort in her left thigh, she was solid in the decisive points. At the same time, Clara Burel won without trembling against the Serbian Aleksandra Krunic, who fell to 687th place in the world after injuries.

Of the twenty-four Tricolores entered at the Australian Open, fourteen qualified for the second round. On Wednesday, Caroline Garcia, Gaël Monfils and Hugo Gaston will defend their luck on the courts of Melbourne.