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Relentless Alcaraz Pushes Past Cilic

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2022

Relentless Alcaraz Pushes Past Cilic

#NextGenATP Spaniard is now 13-2 on the season

Carlos Alcaraz’s rapid rise continued with pace on Monday at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

The #NextGenATP Spaniard dispatched World No. 23 Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4 in an intense and heavy-hitting display to reach the fourth round in Florida for the first time.

“I started the match well. It was important to get confidence at the beginning of the match,” Alcaraz said in his on-court interview. “[Starting well] was the key in the first set and it was important to be up in the match.”

Alcaraz was No. 132 in the ATP Rankings when he lost on debut against Finn Emil Ruusuvuori in the first round at the ATP Masters 1000 event last season. Now the 18-year-old is at a career-high No. 16 and is competing in Miami with genuine title aspirations following his impressive start to the year.

The 14th seed, who eliminated Marton Fucsovics in his opening match in Miami, has frequently made history in 2022 with his dynamic performances.

Alcaraz became the youngest ATP 500 champion when he triumphed in Rio de Janeiro, before he advanced to the semi-finals in Indian Wells. His impressive run in the California desert meant he became the second-youngest semi-finalist in tournament history behind only Andre Agassi, who was 17 when he achieved the feat in 1988.

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Pumped up and zoned in from the start, Alcaraz looked comfortable against Cilic on Grandstand as he levelled their ATP Head2Head series at 1-1, gaining revenge from his defeat in Estoril last season.

“I think the crowd liked the way I played, with drop shots and playing hard,” Alcaraz said. “They love that style and I think here in Miami a lot of people speak Spanish.”

The Spaniard showcased great agility and pace to track down forehand bullets from Cilic, while he used his own power and depth to pin the 33-year-old deep behind the baseline. Alcaraz saved the one break point he faced and hit 16 winners, eventually advancing after one hour and 35 minutes.

The 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion will next play third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or Australian Alex de Minaur. Alcaraz holds a 1-0 ATP Head2Head series lead over World No. 5 Tsitsipas, having upset the Greek at the US Open in 2021.

Cilic was making his 13th appearance in Miami, with his best result coming in 2013 when he reached the quarter-finals.

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Hurkacz Continues Title Defence With Karatsev Win

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2022

Hurkacz Continues Title Defence With Karatsev Win

Pole clinched his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Miami last season

Hubert Hurkacz continued his love affair with the Miami Open presented by Itau Monday, edging Aslan Karatsev 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 on Grandstand to reach the fourth round.

The Pole broke new ground in Miami last season when he captured his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title. Hurkacz, who has since climbed from No. 37 in the ATP Rankings to current No. 10, produced a strong serving performance against Karatsev as he fired 24 aces to clinch his eighth consecutive win in Florida.

Following his two-hour, 24-minute triumph, Hurkacz now leads the 29-year-old 2-1 in their ATP Head2Head series. The eighth seed will next face Lloyd Harris or Yoshihito Nishioka in the round of 16.

Hurkacz is aiming to win his fifth tour-level crown this week but first of the year. His best result in 2022 came at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where he advanced to the semi-finals.

The 25-year-old is the only previous Miami titlist left in the draw after American John Isner and former World No. 1 Andy Murray both fell at the second-round stage.

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Brooksby Roars Past Bautista Agut, Sets Medvedev Showdown In Miami

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2022

Brooksby Roars Past Bautista Agut, Sets Medvedev Showdown In Miami

Indian Wells champ Fritz continues Sunshine Double pursuit

Never count out Jenson Brooksby. The 21-year-old proved why on Monday when he rallied from 0-4 down in the deciding set to stun 15th seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 and reach the fourth round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

“I’m happy to get through that one. I thought my competing today was a lot better. Still a little streaky, but usually it would be easy to mentally fold in that situation, I think,” Brooksby said. “But I stayed really mentally strong, I competed until the end and it went my way.”

Brooksby, who dispatched 18th seed Nikoloz Basilashvili with the loss of only four games in the second round, has quickly established himself as a difficult out for the world’s best players. That will be put to the ultimate test in the next round when he challenges top seed Daniil Medvedev.

The home favourite began the season with one ATP Masters 1000 win, but he is now 7-3 at this level, having also advanced to the Round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells. During this March Masters swing, Brooksby has earned three wins against current or former Top 10 players.

It was a gruelling match against Bautista Agut, who is one of the best baseliners on Tour. Early on, Brooksby showed impressive shotmaking. But his Spanish opponent used his consistency to hang around and quickly earned two breaks in the third set to seize full control. 

But instead of capitulating, two-time ATP Tour finalist Brooksby locked down from the back of the court and clawed his way to six consecutive games and with them, the victory after two hours and 59 minutes

“Unfortunately I had lower energy to start the third and I put myself in a lot of trouble there because of that,” Brooksby said. “But I was glad to mentally turn that around.”


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Brooksby has experience against the very best. At last year’s US Open, he won the first set against Novak Djokovic before losing in four sets.

Another American advanced when Indian Wells champion Taylor Fritz defeated close friend and countryman Tommy Paul 7-6(2), 6-4.

Fritz needed three sets in his second-round clash against Mikhail Kukushkin, but against Paul he converted the two break points he earned to move on after one hour and 33 minutes.

“Obviously my body is feeling it a bit, but I’m kind of just thinking [that] I’m playing good, my confidence is high, so I want to keep riding it out as much as possible instead of the other way you can go, which is kind of being satisfied and being, ‘Oh, I did really well this week, it’s okay if I don’t do so well the next week,'” Fritz said. “I kind of just kept telling myself to not be satisfied with doing well in Indian Wells. I want to do well here.”

Fritz will next play in-form Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, who eliminated American Sebastian Korda7-6(4), 6-3. Kecmanovic battled into the Indian Wells quarter-finals, in which he lost to Fritz in three sets.

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Zverev Eases Past McDonald In Miami Nightcap

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2022

Zverev Eases Past McDonald In Miami Nightcap

Second seed to face Kokkinakis in last 16

After battling Borna Coric for three sets in his Miami opener, Alex Zverev closed Sunday’s evening session in Hard Rock Stadium with a much more comfortable victory against American Mackenzie McDonald. 

In a 6-2, 6-2 cruise, the German had break points in each of his first six return games, converting in four of them as he raced to a 6-2, 4-0 lead. He wiped away the only break point he faced, with McDonald’s opportunity coming in a low-leverage situation as he trailed by a double break at 4-1 in the opener.

“I’m happy to be finding my rhythm a little bit,” Zverev said after the one-hour, 13-minute victory. “I’m happy with getting easier wins, as well. Just generally happy to be in the fourth round. I think the tournament is going to get tougher from here, but I’m ready.”

Zverev improves to 3-0 in his ATP Head2Head against the American, taking all three meetings in straight sets, including in Montpellier in February. McDonald, currently five spots off his career-high ATP Ranking at World No. 54, was playing in the Miami third round for the first time.

The German had success pinning his opponent deep behind the baseline, enabling him to dictate the rallies both on serve and return. He also hit 10 aces in the match and won more than 70 per cent of his service points.

“The most important thing against Mackenzie is to play deep, that’s the number one priority,” Zverev said of his tactics. “Because he’s somebody that tries to go to the net, tries to play aggressive. So try to take that away from him. It worked out well and I’m happy to be through.”

The 24-year-old has never lost in three appearances in the Miami third round, previously reaching the 2018 final and the 2017 quarter-finals. 

The German will look to stay perfect in the Miami fourth round when he faces as resurgent Thanasi Kokkinakis in the last 16. The Aussie beat another American in Denis Kudla, 7-6(5), 4-6, 7-6(5), firing 22 aces over the course of two hours, 47 minutes.

Should the unseeded Kokkinakis pull off the upset, that result would take him to the verge of the Top 70 and his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 69. The 2022 Australian Open doubles champion, who will turn 26 in April, reached that high mark in 2015 at the age of 19.

After winning his first ATP Tour title in his hometown of Adelaide in January, Kokkinakis is now through to the last 16 as an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time in more than seven years, since Indian Wells in 2015.

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Salisbury To Take Over Top Spot In ATP Doubles Rankings

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2022

Salisbury To Take Over Top Spot In ATP Doubles Rankings

Briton will replace Mate Pavic as World No. 1

Joe Salisbury earned more than just a spot in the Miami quarter-finals after teaming with longtime partner Rajeev Ram for a 7-5, 7-6(2) win over Feliciano Lopez and Stefanos Tsitsipas on Sunday.

After Mate Pavic and Nikola Mektic lost their second-round match at the Miami Open presented by Itau, the 29-year-old Briton was guaranteed to replace Pavic at No. 1 in next week’s edition of the ATP Doubles Rankings — though he didn’t know it until he was told following his victory.

“It seems a bit crazy, to be honest. But yeah, so happy,” he said post-match.”This week, we’re focussing on doing as well as we can, trying to win this tournament in Miami. But yeah, obviously very satisfied. What we’ve done as a team, with Rajeev, to be No. 1 in the team rankings as well now, it’s pretty special.”

It will be Salisbury’s first time at the top spot, with his new status earned on the strength of titles at the 2021 US Open and the Toronto ATP Masters 1000 event — both alongside Ram, the current World No. 4. The pair also reached the championship match the Nitto ATP Finals in November.

“It’s always been a goal,” he said of the No. 1 position. “I think we’ve been focused more on winning tournaments as a team, winning Masters 1000s, winning Grand Slams. But yeah, obviously it’s amazing for us that we’re going to be going into tournaments as the No. 1 seed. To have the No. 1 ranking is amazing. It’s a special moment.”

Seeking a first Miami title, the British/American duo did not face a break point in the match and dropped just one point on first serve.

Next up for the second seeds is the wild card duo of Hubert Hurkacz and John Isner, who got past Austin Krajicek and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, 4-6, 6-3, 10-6, in the second round.

Rohan Bopanna and Denis Shapovalov ensured Salisbury’s rise to No. 1 with their 6-3, 7-6(3) win over Croatia’s top-seeded pairing of Pavic and Mektic. The Indian/Canadian duo saved the only break point they faced in the upset win.

Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski, the only other seeds in action Sunday, advanced with a 6-3, 7-6(8) win over Pedro Martinez and Lorenzo Sonego.

<a href=''>Wesley Koolhof</a>, <a href=''>Neal Skupski</a>
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

After joining forces for the first time to start 2022, the Dutch/British team won three ATP Tour titles in their first six tournaments. They were turned back in the Indian Wells quarters by Salisbury and Ram.

The Round of 16 will continue on Monday in Miami.

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Hard Courts to Hardwood: Frances Tiafoe's Hoop Dreams

  • Posted: Mar 28, 2022

Hard Courts to Hardwood: Frances Tiafoe’s Hoop Dreams

The Washington Wizards fan picks his ideal starting five from the ATP Tour

March Madness is reaching a fever pitch as both the men’s and women’s NCAA Division I basketball tournaments are down to the Final Four. And the NBA playoffs are just around the corner in April.

You can be sure that Frances Tiafoe will be watching it all. The man with the biggest NBA jersey collection on the ATP Tour joined us to talk basketball — one of his biggest passions outside of tennis.

The Maryland native is often in the crowd at Washington Wizards games, but he’s recently started getting on the court with assistant coach Alex McLean. Tiafoe uses their workouts for cross-training and plans to step up the intensity when he gets back home after the Miami Open, with a particular focus on ball-handling.

“I’m trying to get my handle right,” he said. “I want to do a lot of handle work, and I use that for my fitness. When I get back, we’re going to really grind.”


Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

When it comes to the NBA, Tiafoe counts LeBron James, Ja Morant, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Jokic and Giannis Antetokounmpo among his favourite players to watch.

The last time he was in the building for a game was just before Indian Wells. Taking advantage of his time in Southern California, Tiafoe was able to watch James score 56 points to lead the Lakers to a home win against the Golden State Warriors.

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His prediction for the NBA Finals: The Phoenix Suns complete unfinished business by beating the Philadelphia 76ers, one year after falling just short in the 2021 Finals.

We also asked Tiafoe to pick his ideal starting five from the ATP Tour: “I’d take Reilly [Opelka] as a big. Nick [Kyrgios] can play, [Thanasi] Kokkinakis probably on the wing. Gael [Monfils] probably the four,” he said, pausing to consider his final selection. “Then Tommy Paul. He’s got a decent jumper.”

You might have noticed one glaring omission from that squad — Tiafoe himself.

“I need work,” he said with a laugh. “I’m more of a spot-up, open shooter. My handles need work. But if I’m open, I’m knocking it down.”

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