made a real statement by returning to action just five days after defeating to lift his first title. The Spaniard beat world No 111 David Goffin in a Hopman Cup clash on Friday but it didn’t come easily.

The Belgian took Alcaraz to three sets and 106 minutes of play as he put up a decent fight before eventually being toppled by the world No 1 4-6, 6-4, 10-8. It certainly wasn’t the smoothest transition back to clay following his successes at the grass-court Grand Slam.

The 20-year-old dropped his serve twice to surrender the opening set to Goffin, but responded well and levelled the scores in the second before clawing his way back from a 0-4 deficit to win the tie-break 10-8.

“It wasn’t easy, it was a tough match but I’m really happy to come back to clay courts,” admitted Alcaraz in the immediate aftermath. “It’s a good surface for me and I really enjoyed playing tennis here.

“I felt the energy and the love from the people.” Alcaraz is expected to be back in action at the Canadian Open on August 7 and is hoping to string together a solid run in the lead-up to the at the end of next month.

During his post-match press conference at the Hopman Cup, Alcaraz expressed his desire to win the Toronto Masters and Cincinnati Masters, before defending his US Open title. “My focus is on the Toronto Masters 1000, which is one of the most important in the category,” he said.

“Whenever I go to a tournament I do it with the thought that I can win, with the certainty that I can win, so this summer I will play that tournament in Toronto and also the Masters 1000 in Cincinnati. Although, obviously, the main objective is always the US Open, although the ideal is to go game by game.”

Alcaraz defeated Casper Rudd last year to pick up his first Grand Slam title at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York. Djokovic was unable to play at the tournament due to the vaccination requirements in place to enter the United States but is expected to take to the court this year after the country lifted its vaccine mandate on international travellers in May.