World No. 2 Alcaraz opted not to play any tournaments ahead of the Grand Slam, meaning his last competitive match before stepping on court in Melbourne was on November 18.
He was pushed hard in his first set of the year by veteran Gasquet, but then raised his game and pulled clear to win comfortably.
“I need to get used to the competition again,” he told Eurosport’s Barbara Schett afterwards.
“And it’s not easy to start a tournament, it’s a bit more complicated if I haven’t played since two months ago.
“The first set was difficult for me, but every set I played better and better until the last set, and I ended the match playing at a good level.”
The first set was in the balance as neither player could break serve and the tie-breaker went to 5-5.
But after Alcaraz won the breaker he turned on the style with some superb shot-making as he proved too good for Gasquet.
He said on court that he enjoyed getting fans off their seats and trying to do the “impossible”.
“I always say that making unbelievable [shots] like drop shots, volleys… I’m playing for myself, but I always try to make the people enjoy watching tennis and watching my game.
“It’s another way to do it, hitting some shots that maybe some don’t expect. Sometimes I don’t see the score, and I try to make the impossible for the crowd.
“I try to smile all the time. Obviously there are times when it’s tough to do [so]. The pressure is there, and in those moments, it’s tough to enjoy playing. But I have my team, and when I’m struggling, I look up to them and they put a smile on my face, trying to bring the joy again. That’s the key of my game, that’s why I’m playing good tennis.”
Alcaraz missed the Australian Open last year due to injury but is one of the leading contenders this time around.
Nick Kyrgios was commentating on the match for Eurosport and said seeing Alcaraz in full flow made him want to face him when he returns from injury.
“Carlos was electric as always. I loved watching it from up here and hopefully when I get back I can have a shot at him because he looks pretty fun to play against,” said the 2022 Wimbledon runner-up.
“He did look a little nervous out there. He hasn’t played an official match this year; that was his first match.
“He played some exhibitions, but once he got that first set, his shoulders relaxed a bit, he got inside the court, playing that type of tennis that we know and has been so successful for him.”
Alcaraz will next meet Lorenzo Sonego, who beat British No. 2 Dan Evans in the opening round.
Kyrgios thinks Sonego could be a tricky opponent and says Alcaraz needs to “tidy up” his game a bit.
“Sonego had a great last year, and he’s starting to find his stride.
“I’ve played him, he’s a tough competitor, so Alcaraz is going to have to clean it up a little bit because Sonego will make him pay, that’s for sure.”
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