Carlos Alcaraz began the defence of his cinch Championship crown with a straight-sets win over Francisco Cerundolo.

The reigning king of Queen’s, and Wimbledon champion, stretched his winning streak on grass to 13 matches with a 6-1 7-5 victory.

World number 26 Cerundolo was last seen pushing Novak Djokovic to five sets, and subsequently into a hospital bed, at the French Open.

The Argentinian proved a minor irritant to Alcaraz, too, by breaking the world number two early in the second set.

Alcaraz had to fend off three set points at 4-5 before the Spaniard wrapped up victory in one hour and 22 minutes.

“The first match in every tournament is never easy and even more difficult on grass,” he said.

“I’m really happy with the match I played and to have a really good test to play against Francisco.

“It was close in the second set but good to have to deal with that situation. I’m really happy with everything I’ve done and hopefully I’ll keep on going.”

Carlos Alcaraz hits a forehand on his way to victory on the grass at Queen's
Carlos Alcaraz on his way to victory (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

Alcaraz was playing in his first grass-court tournament outside of Wimbledon when he won the title last year – and he went on to triumph at SW19.

“It doesn’t matter which tournament I’m playing or everything I have achieved, I’m still learning,” the 21-year-old added.

“I have to get better every day and every time I step on to a grass court I have to learn to play better.”

Alcaraz will face new British number one Jack Draper on Thursday in a match he hopes will not clash with Spain’s crunch Euro 2024 game against Italy at 8pm.

“The Euro Cup is every four years. Now is the time to watch and support Spain,” he smiled. “Yeah, hopefully I will request to play early.”

Last year’s runner-up Alex De Minaur was a surprise first-round casualty, the second seed from Australia beaten 1-6 6-4 6-2 by Italian Lorenzo Musetti.

Elsewhere, in Halle French Open runner-up Alexander Zverev won an all-German clash against Oscar Otte 6-7 (5) 6-3 6-4.

World number one Jannik Sinner also had to come from behind to beat Tallon Griekspoor 6-7 (8) 6-3 6-2.