In the US Open 2023 opening game, the world number 75 German, unfortunately, twisted his ankle for just six points during the match. While a stroke from Alcaraz caused him to turn backwards and go over the baseline. After that, the 29-year-old sought treatment at the end of the first game. Koepfer remained until midway through the second set when the discomfort became unbearable.
Koepfer held on hard to win two games in each of the first two sets. But eventually, he retired with Alcaraz leading 6–2, 3–2. Alcaraz will next face South Africa's Lloyd Harris.
Alcaraz was quoted in the post-match presentation as saying, "That's not the best way to get through into another round, but I have to say on my side I was playing great. Honestly, I didn't expect to play such a great level in the first round. I am very, very happy with the level, even if Domi had to retire. Hopefully I can keep that level into the next round."
Alcaraz fought two early break points as Koepfer increased his aggression in an attempt to reduce points. After winning four straight points on serve in the second set, the German retreated as he realized that he could not sustain his strategy for a long period of time.
Alcaraz won the US Open last year in the absence of Djokovic. The Serb was not allowed to enter the country because he was not vaccinated against Covid-19. He also beat the Serb at Wimbledon last month to win his second major title. Alcaraz is aiming to become the first man to defend his US Open title since Roger Federer in 2008.
Earlier, Italian Jannik Sinner dropped just five games in a stunning 6-3, 6-1, 6-1 victory over German Yannick Hanfmann.