‘First-Round Exit Bye’: Alcaraz's Wimbledon Opponent Fires Clear Warning

‘First-Round Exit Bye’: Alcaraz's Wimbledon Opponent Fires Clear Warning

by Nurein Ahmed

Carlos Alcaraz's first-round opponent at the 2024 Wimbledon Championships, Mark Lajal, has started playing mind games on social media before their opening-day meeting.

The draw for this year's Championships was revealed on Friday, whereby defending champion Alcaraz learned that he would play Estonia's Mark Lajal, ranked 262nd in the ATP rankings.

It will be their first-ever collision on Tour. The man from Tallinn, who is only seven days younger than the Spaniard, has shot down pre-match predictions. Lajal came through qualifying, beating Francesco Passaro, Henrique Rocha, and James Duckworth to reach the main draw.

Only once before in the Open Era has the reigning Wimbledon men's champion lost in the first round of their title defense in the following year. That was back in 2003 when Lleyton Hewitt was stunned by Croatia's Ivo Karlovic.

Alcaraz will know Lajal is not in the draw to make up the numbers. The Estonian reacted to an Instagram graphic showing the World No. 3's projected draw to the final, assuming he would win his first-round match. But he had none of that and warned that he would spring an upset.

"Catch me here on Monday. “

"What road to the final? First round exit, byebye."

Lajal has a career-high ranking of World No 191, though he features heavily on the ATP Challenger Tour. Before this year, he had never played on the grass at the pro level. So far, he has compiled a 5-2 record on the surface since his debut in early June at the Surbiton Challenger.

Alcaraz, by contrast, is the same age as his Wimbledon opponent but is vastly experienced. The Spaniard won his first grass-court title last summer at Queen's, although he fell in the second round to Jack Draper on his title defense this past week. He has posted a 26-6 record for the year and will have the honor of playing on Centre Court on Monday.


You may also like