Former US Open champion Marin Cilic spent two and a quarter hours in schooling Spanish teen prodigy Carlos Alcaraz, with the Croatian earning a 6-3, 1-6, 6-4 win into the Estoril second round on Tuesday.
Cilic, who claimed his Grand Slam honour at the 2014 US Open, broke the 17-year-old qualifier five times.
Alcaraz has been making a name for himself recently, reaching the semi-finals this month in Marbella and winning five Challenger titles last season.
The 32-year-old Cilic, his ranking down to 42nd, finally began getting his game untracked with a Miami fourth round last month after losing in the first round of his last two Grand Slams in New York and Melbourne.
“I’m extremely happy to be here in Portugal, in Estoril for the first time,” Cilic said.
“It was a very difficult match. Carlos is a great young talent… Definitely he’s got an unbelievable future ahead of him and you could see in the end one or two points just decided the match.”
The youngster fought back twice in the final set from a break down but took the loss as he dropped serve for a third time. Cilic next faces Nuno Borges for a quarter-final place on the clay.
France’s Richard Gasquet, 2015 champion here, had to go the distance to earn a 6-3, 7-5 defeat of Argentine Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina in one hour and 49 minutes.
Gasquet is still getting his eye in as he plays only his fifth event of 2021 after dealing with a leg injury.
2018 home titleholder Joao Sousa was knocked out in an early disappointment, falling to Brit Cameron Norrie 6-1, 6-3.
Former Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato, stopped South African Lloyd Harris 6-3, 6-4; Pierre-Hugues Herbert beat fellow Frenchman Gilles Simon 7-5, 6-3.
Main photo:–Carlos Alcaraz loses in first round to Marin Cilic