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Alcaraz says his expectation levels are changing on grass after reaching quarters at Queen's

Carlos Alcaraz Carlos Alcaraz - The Canadian Press

LONDON (AP) — So much for Carlos Alcaraz being a novice on the grass.

The new big thing in men's tennis looked quite at home on the lush green surface at the Queen's Club Championships in beating Jiri Lehecka of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals on Thursday.

Alcaraz, ranked No. 2 and the top-seeded player in west London, is playing the Wimbledon warmup event for the first time. Indeed, these are his first professional games on grass outside the All England Club, where he'll head next month seeking his second Grand Slam title after the U.S. Open last year.

Alcaraz said his expectation levels on grass “are going to change” given the way he dispatched Lehecka, who came in at a career-high ranking of No. 36.

“After this match and this level, I think I'm ready to get good results on grass,” the Spaniard said.

A cross-court backhand beat the 36th-ranked Lehecka on the stretch to take the first set, during which Alcaraz didn't face a break point.

Mistakes started to creep into both players' games in the second set — there were 41 unforced errors between them overall in the match — but Alcaraz's defense and coverage at the net impressed as he wrapped up victory in 1 hour, 25 minutes on his third match point when Lehecka hit a forehand long.

It took Alcaraz more than 2 1/2 hours — and three sets containing two tiebreakers — to see off Arthur Rinderknech of France in the first round.

“I feel really comfortable here on grass," Alcaraz said. "I’m happy getting experience on grass. Knowing I have this level, I'm really happy about it.”

Alcaraz will next play qualifier Grigor Dimitrov, the 2014 champion. He beat eighth-seeded Francisco Cerundolo 6-3, 7-5.

Adrian Mannarino of France got another big win on grass, and entertained along the way, by ousting third-seeded Taylor Fritz of the United States 6-4, 7-6 (7).

A week after beating Daniil Medvedev last week in 's-Hertogenbosch in the Netherlands, Mannarino used his accurate first serve — he had a 74% match success rate — to set up a meeting with Alex de Minaur in the quarterfinals.

The 46th-ranked Mannarino drew gasps and applause with a no-look volleyed winner, as well as a ’tweener and a shot behind his back in the same point.

Fritz saved three match points in the tiebreaker but double-faulted on the fourth.

De Minaur of Australia defeated Diego Schwartzman 6-2, 6-2 in barely an hour.


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