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Medvedev Survives Fall, Defeats Zverev In Indian Wells

  • Posted: Mar 14, 2023

Medvedev Survives Fall, Defeats Zverev In Indian Wells

Fifth seed next plays Davidovich Fokina

Down but not out, Daniil Medvedev extended his red-hot winning streak to 17 matches Tuesday when he recovered from a heavy fall to defeat Alexander Zverev at the BNP Paribas Open.

The fifth seed took a tumble when moving out wide at 2-3 in the second set, yelping in pain as he rolled his right ankle. However, after having his ankle taped, he continued and turned the match around, capturing victory on his second match point to earn a statement 6-7(5), 7-6(5), 7-5 victory against the 12th-seeded German.

“When I twisted [my ankle], I thought I was going to stand up just fine,” Medvedev said. “But then the pain started growing very fast, so I was like ‘That is not a good sign.’ I felt like I didn’t break it but I felt that one of the ligaments was a little injured, so I thought I wasn’t going to be able to play. It was one of the first times in my life that the physio had taped my ankle, so I decided to give it a try. What was surprising was it was much easier to run than walk. So when I was walking I was limping and then I was running fine.

“When the adrenaline goes down, it will be pretty painful, so I am going to probably do a scan to see what it is and if I can continue to play.”

<a href=''>Daniil Medvedev</a> takes a tumble during his three-set win over <a href=''>Alexander Zverev</a>.
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

<a href=''>Daniil Medvedev</a> takes time out after an ankle injury as <a href=''>Alexander Zverev</a> looks on.
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

In the 13th chapter of their rivalry, the aggressive fifth seed struck 40 winners and also demonstrated his trademark defensive skills. He stood deep behind the baseline to soak up Zverev’s hitting, cutting down on errors as the match went on to wear down the German and reach the quarter-finals in Indian Wells for the first time.

After losing the opening set, Medvedev saved all 10 break points he faced in the second set, twice rallying from 0/40. He then levelled the match in the tie-break, producing a stunning defensive smash at 1/1. In the third set, Medvedev recovered from squandering a match point on serve at 5-4, with Zverev breaking back. Medvedev would not be denied, though, breaking again when Zverev hit a double fault, before he held serve to advance after three hours and 16 minutes.

The 27-year-old now leads Zverev 7-6 in their ATP Head2Head series, avenging his loss against the German in the title match at the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals.

Medvedev, currently No. 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, is chasing his fourth consecutive title, having triumphed in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai in the past month. He will continue his quest in California against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Zverev missed the second half of last season after suffering a right ankle injury during his Roland Garros semi-final against Rafael Nadal. The 25-year-old struggled to find his best level when returning to Tour in January, but has produced more consistent performances in recent weeks, advancing to the semi-finals in Dubai before his run to the fourth round in Indian Wells.

Davidovich Fokina downed Cristian Garin 6-3, 6-4 to end the Chilean’s run. The Spaniard dominated throughout the 85-minute clash, striking 20 winners and breaking four times to reach his third ATP Masters 1000 quarter-final.

Davidovich Fokina, who advanced to the quarter-finals in Monte Carlo in 2021 and the championship match in 2022, is up two spots to No. 26 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. He reached a career-high No. 27 in April last year.

Garin had not dropped a set en route to the fourth round, taking out third seed Casper Ruud after coming through qualifying in Indian Wells.

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Shang, Thiem Among Miami Wild Cards

  • Posted: Mar 14, 2023

Shang, Thiem Among Miami Wild Cards

Bergs, Daniel and Nava also receive main draw spot

The Miami Open presented by Itau announced that Zizou Bergs, Taro Daniel, Emilio Nava and Shang Juncheng will join Dominic Thiem as main draw wild cards at the season’s second ATP Masters 1000 event.

The most in-form player of the group is Daniel, who advanced to the quarter-finals in Acapulco as a qualifier before qualifying in Indian Wells and reaching the third round behind an upset of 20th seed Matteo Berrettini.

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Nava and Shang competed in the Miami main draw last year, losing in the first round. Bergs will make his Masters 1000 debut.

Thiem will return to Miami for the first time since 2019. The Austrian owns a 7-5 record at the tournament, where he advanced to the quarter-finals in 2015.

Tournament organisers also awarded qualifying wild cards to Benoit Paire, Abdullah Shelbayh, Martin Damm, Learner Tien and Alexander Blockx.

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Alcaraz Takes On Draper, Medvedev-Zverev Rivalry Resumes In Indian Wells

  • Posted: Mar 14, 2023

Alcaraz Takes On Draper, Medvedev-Zverev Rivalry Resumes In Indian Wells

Action-packed Tuesday features all fourth-round singles matches

All eight quarter-final spots are up for grabs on Tuesday in Indian Wells, where the 16 remaining players in the draw seek fourth-round success on an action-packed day at the 2023 BNP Paribas Open.

Top seed Carlos Alcaraz continues his campaign at the opening ATP Masters 1000 event of the year — and his bid to return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings — against big-hitting lefty Jack Draper. Daniil Medvedev seeks to extend his 16-match winning streak in a heavyweight clash against Alexander Zverev, while 11th seed Jannik Sinner faces a rejuvenated Stan Wawrinka.

With Top 10 stars Taylor Fritz, Andrey Rublev and Felix Auger-Aliassime also in fourth-round action, previews a mouth-watering Day 7 in the California desert.

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[1] Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) Vs. Jack Draper (GBR)

For the third tournament in a row, Alcaraz takes on a British lefty. The Spaniard went 1-1 against Cameron Norrie on clay in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro in February, but it is the powerful Draper who stands in Alcaraz’s way on Tuesday as he aims to keep his Indian Wells title bid on track.

The pair met for the first time on Tour in October in Basel, where Alcaraz overcame a fast Draper start to earn a three-set victory. The 19-year-old is more than aware of the danger presented by the World No. 56 Draper, who is considered one of the most exciting young players on Tour and is yet to drop a set on his Indian Wells debut.

“I know he’s really good player,” said Alcaraz of Draper after the Spaniard defeated Tallon Griekspoor in the third round on Monday for the 100th tour-level win of his career. “He’s playing well. He has beaten great opponents like [Daniel] Evans and Andy [Murray]. I know that I’m going to have to play my best, give my 100% on court… It’s going to be a really tough match and I’m going to enjoy [it].”

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Draper certainly possesses the weapons to hurt Alcaraz when the pair kicks off Tuesday’s night session on Stadium 1. On Monday, the 21-year-old navigated windy desert conditions to defeat another former World No. 1 in Murray, and the Briton’s serve and forehand could be particularly crucial if he is to make enough dents in Alcaraz’s robust defence to seal the biggest win of his career by Pepperstone ATP Ranking.

“I want to keep on trying to impose my game and use my weapons,” said Draper, who reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in Montreal last year, after his third-round win. “It’s not easy in these conditions… The wind was a bit swirly and obviously playing against Andy, he makes it incredibly awkward for you. It’s something I’m looking to improve with my coach and it’s definitely starting to pay off a little bit more.”

Draper will likely have to find his best level again if he is to be the one to stop Alcaraz from winning his third Masters 1000 title this fortnight, however, and the Spaniard has double motivation to go all the way in Indian Wells. By claiming the trophy, Alcaraz would leapfrog Novak Djokovic to claim the No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time since January.

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[5] Daniil Medvedev Vs. [12] Alexander Zverev (GER)

Medvedev and Zverev share a 6-6 ATP Head2Head series record. Remarkably, all 12 of their previous tour-level meetings have been played on hard courts.

While that trend will continue with Tuesday’s fourth-round clash on Stadium 1, it will be the first time the pair has faced off in the unique desert conditions of Indian Wells. Zverev sealed a straight-sets victory in the pair’s most recent tour-level clash at the 2021 Nitto ATP Finals, but Medvedev sees Tuesday’s encounter as a fundamentally different contest due to the comparatively slower courts in California.

“Every match against such a top player is a new start,” said Mevedev after defeating Ilya Ivashka on Sunday. “Every match he tries to adapt, I try to adapt. I remember he did very well in Turin to beat me… He was serving great… [But I think that] is a little bit less important here in Indian Wells. I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of rallies. It’s going to come down to who makes the best shot to try to put your opponent off balance, which is not easy to do here.”

Medvedev arrived in Indian Wells after lifting three ATP Tour trophies in three weeks (Rotterdam, Doha, Dubai) and the 27-year-old has so far beaten Brandon Nakashima and Ivashka in California to extend his winning streak to 16 tour-level matches. That red-hot run may make Tuesday’s clash feel like a daunting prospect for Zverev, but it will also serve as a useful barometer of his progress since he returned to Tour in January after missing seven months with a serious ankle injury.

“Daniil is probably the best, maybe the second-best player after Novak, right now,” said Zverev, after the five-time Masters 1000 champion held off Emil Ruusuvuori in the third round. “I’m pretty sure I’m not the favourite. Especially where I’m coming from and where’s he’s coming from. But we always have very interesting matches so hopefully it’s going to be another one.”

[11] Jannik Sinner Vs. Stan Wawrinka (SUI)

There is unlikely to be much holding back from the baseline during the final match of the day on Stadium 3 as Jannik Sinner and Stan Wawrinka meet at an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time.

The 11th-seeded Sinner is into the fourth round for a third consecutive year in Indian Wells but is yet to advance to a quarter-final. He will be keen to build on his 14-3 start to the 2023 season, which includes a run to his seventh ATP Tour title in Montpellier, by treading new ground in ‘Tennis Paradise’.

After losing his first two tour-level matches against the former World No. 3 and 2017 Indian Wells finalist Wawrinka, Sinner clinched victories at last year’s Wimbledon and in Rotterdam in Feburary to level the pair’s ATP Head2Head series at 2-2. Wawrinka will be feeling confident after taking out seventh seed Holger Rune in a tense third-round clash in California, however, as he bids for his first Masters 1000 quarter-final appearance since the 2020 Rolex Paris Masters.

Also In Action…

A trio of Americans seek to ride home support to a quarter-final spot on Tuesday, and all three face opponents they have never faced before at Tour-level. The highest-ranked among them is World No. 5 and defending champion Taylor Fritz, who dropped just three games against Sebastian Baez in his third-round match. The 25-year-old meets World No. 84 Marton Fucsovics on Stadium 1.

Tommy Paul is chasing his first quarter-final appearance in Indian Wells, but the 17th seed has a tough assignment against eighth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, while 14th seed Frances Tiafoe takes on Chilean qualifier Alejandro Tabilo.

The opening ATP action on Stadium 3 sees the power of sixth seed Andrey Rublev collide with the consistency of 10th seed and 2021 champion Norrie clash in an intriguing collision of gamestyles. On Stadium 4, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina looks to snap the inspired run of Cristian Garin, who has won all 10 sets he has played in Indian Wells this fortnight across two qualifying and three main-draw matches.

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Gonzalez/Roger-Vasselin Save 2 MPs To Upset Mektic/Pavic

  • Posted: Mar 14, 2023

Gonzalez/Roger-Vasselin Save 2 MPs To Upset Mektic/Pavic

Glasspool/Heliovaara, Bolelli/Fognini also advance to quarter-finals

Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin saved two match points and 11 of 12 break points to pull off an upset against fourth seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open.

In a 6-7(8), 7-6(5), 11-9 victory, the Mexican-French duo erased those match points at 5-6 in the second set, then overcame a 6/8 deficit in the Match Tie-break to advance to the Indian Wells quarter-finals. They will next take on Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara on Wednesday, after the fifth seeds beat Americans Marcos Giron and J.J. Wolf 6-2, 6-3.

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Rounding out Monday’s doubles action at the ATP Masters 1000, Italians Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini came from behind to score a 1-6, 6-3, 10-5 win against the American duo of Austin Krajicek and Mackenzie McDonald.

Bolelli/Fognini face defending and two-time desert champions John Isner and Jack Sock in Wednesday’s quarter-finals.

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The other two quarterfinal matchups: top seeds Neal Skupski and Wesley Koolhof play Jamie Murray and Michael Venus, while Canadian superstars Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov meet Matthew Ebden and Rohan Bopanna.

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Alcaraz Earns 100th Win To Reach Indian Wells Fourth Round

  • Posted: Mar 14, 2023

Alcaraz Earns 100th Win To Reach Indian Wells Fourth Round

Spaniard beats Griekspoor, faces Draper on Tuesday night

Carlos Alcaraz had to work hard for his victory against Tallon Griekspoor Monday night at the BNP Paribas Open, but his reward made the late evening shift well worth it. With a 7-6(4), 6-3 result, the 19-year-old secured a milestone moment in his young career by notching his 100th tour-level win.

Now with a 100-32 record, Alcaraz needed the second-fewest matches to hit the century mark among the 28 World No. 1s in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, behind only John McEnroe, who did it in one match fewer.

While the Spaniard will have his sights set on bigger goals this week — namely, winning the Indian Wells title and returning to World No. 1 — he took a moment to address his latest achievement post-match.

“I’m really proud to get my 100th win on the ATP Tour and I hope it’s the first 100 of many,” said Alcaraz, who beat his own internal clock to reach the milestone. “Honestly, I searched that stat today, [but] I didn’t know. I thought it was in the next round,” he admitted through a smile.

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Alcaraz won a closely contested opening set, raising his level in the tie-break after the aggressive Griekspoor matched him shot for shot to that point. While the Spaniard did not consistently hit the heights of his opening-round win against Thanasi Kokkinakis, he still produced plenty of show-stopping winners, complete with his usual complement of drop shots.

Some precision passing shots helped Alcaraz take a 3-0 lead in set two, with the Spaniard saving his first two break points of the tournament to consolidate an early break. Down 0/30 as he served out the match, he dialed up the power to win the final four points of the match, with NBA legends Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki among those enjoying the show.

Next up for Alcaraz is Briton Jack Draper, who defeated Andy Murray 7-6(6), 6-2 earlier on Monday night. The pair will contest a second ATP Head2Head meeting on Tuesday evening, after Alcaraz won a three-setter in Basel last October.

“I’m ready. I love playing those kind of matches,” said the Spaniard. “Jack’s playing really well. I played against him just once in Basel, not a long time ago. It was really tough. I know that I have to put my best level, I have to show my 100 per cent to [beat] a great opponent like Jack. I think it’s going to be a really beautiful match to watch for the crowd and obviously I’m going to enjoy the match.”

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7 Key Matches In Alcaraz's Fast Path To 100 Wins

  • Posted: Mar 14, 2023

7 Key Matches In Alcaraz’s Fast Path To 100 Wins

Seven of the Spaniard’s best, biggest and most memorable victories so far

Carlos Alcaraz’s victory against Tallon Griekspoor on Monday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells was his 100th tour-level win, and the Spaniard’s rapid progression to that milestone places him in prestigious company.

With his 100-32 tour-level record, the 19-year-old Alcaraz has earned second place on the list of fewest matches to 100 wins among players to reach No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings at some stage during their career. Only American great John McEnroe (100-31) reached his century faster than Alcaraz, who sits above Andre Agassi (100-35), Rafael Nadal (100-37), and Mats Wilander/Jimmy Connors (both 100-38) on the list.

To celebrate his achievement, looks at some of Alcaraz’s most memorable victories from his journey to 100.

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Alcaraz Earns 100th Win To Reach Indian Wells Fourth Round

Win No. 1: ‘I Will Remember Rio Forever’
The 16-year-old Alcaraz announced himself on the ATP Tour in spectacular fashion at the 2020 Rio Open presented by Claro, where he battled past his countryman Albert Ramos-Vinolas for victory on his ATP Tour main-draw debut.

Then No. 406 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Alcaraz prevailed 7-6(2), 4-6, 7-6(2) in a first-round epic that finished at 3am local time in Rio de Janeiro. “I will remember Rio forever,” he later said. “I am very happy to win my first ATP Tour match… There were quite difficult conditions, but if you have the right attitude, the conditions don’t matter. You can achieve anything.”

Win No. 16: A Fearless First Final
Alcaraz had only broken into the Top 100 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings two months prior to the 2021 Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag. Yet the Spaniard had already firmly established himself as one of the top emerging talents on Tour, and his run to his maiden ATP Tour title at the clay-court ATP 250 felt like an almost inevitable milestone moment for a player destined to rise to the very top.

The 18-year-old Alcaraz delivered an emphatic championship match performance against former World No. 7 Richard Gasquet in Croatia to become the youngest tour-level champion since Kei Nishikori in 2008 at Delray Beach. Despite playing in his first tour-level final, Alcaraz showed few signs of nerves as he raced to a 6-2, 6-2 victory against the Frenchman, himself a former teen prodigy.

Win No. 22: Top 10 Takedown
Alcaraz’s third-round win against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2021 US Open earned the Spaniard a spot in the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time, but that was not the only significant aspect of the result. His 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2), 0-6, 7-6(5) triumph against the then-World No. 3 Tsitsipas was Alcaraz’s first against a Top 10 opponent and served as an announcement that the 18-year-old had already become a genuine threat to all on Tour.

Despite dropping the fourth set against Tsitsipas 0-6, Alcaraz regained his composure to clinch the deciding-set tie-break and become the youngest player to reach the fourth round at a major since 1992. He went one step further in New York, claiming another five-set win against Peter Gojowczyk to reach his maiden major quarter-final, where he was forced to retire due to a thigh issue when trailing Felix Auger-Aliassime by a set and a break.

Win No. 51: Master In Miami
“I have no words to describe how I feel right now,” said Alcaraz after downing Casper Ruud 7-5, 6-4 to become the third-youngest ATP Masters 1000 titlist in history at the 2022 Miami Open presented by Itau. The biggest title of his fledgling career up to that point, the Spaniard dropped just one set all tournament to become the youngest champion in the 37-year history of the Miami event.

Alcaraz lost the opening three games of the championship match against Ruud but barely looked back from then on as he charged to a one-hour, 52-minute victory. With the win, Alcaraz rose to a then-career-high No. 11 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

Win No. 59: Resisting Rafa
In 2021, Rafael Nadal had dropped just three games in a dominant second-round performance against Alcaraz at the Mutua Madrid Open. One year later, Alcaraz gave another demonstration of just how far he had come with a milestone victory in a much-anticipated rematch at the clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event.

A day after he turned 19, Alcaraz held off a trademark Nadal fightback for a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 quarter-final win, his first in three ATP Head2Head meetings against his legendary countryman. “It means a lot to me,” said Alcaraz afterwards. “All the hard work that I put in every day pays off today. To beat Rafa, to beat the best player in history on clay, it means a lot to me.”

Win No. 60: Knocking Down A No. 1
Alcaraz’s path through the Madrid draw did not become any easier even after he defeated five-time champion Nadal. Another ATP Tour great, Novak Djokovic, stood in his way in the semi-finals in the Spanish capital, but the 19-year-old again outlasted a vastly more experienced opponent for a statement 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) win.

Alcaraz outhit Djokovic by 51 winners to 24 at the Caja Magic for his first victory against a reigning World No. 1 and his sixth straight Top 10 triumph. By notching maiden wins against two members of the fabled ‘Big 3’ on consecutive days and then downing Alexander Zverev to lift the trophy at the Caja Magica, the Spaniard spectacularly reaffirmed his ability to consistently match the very best on Tour.

Win No. 84: Big Moment In The Big Apple
Alcaraz battled past Marin Cilic, Jannik Sinner and Frances Tiafoe in three consecutive five-set epics to reach his maiden Grand Slam final at the 2022 US Open. Yet his heavy workload in New York did not stop him producing a remarkably assured championship-match display against Casper Ruud.

In a winner-takes-all clash for the US Open crown and the No. 1 spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Alcaraz expertly handled the pressure as he delivered an aggressive display to earn a 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(1), 6-3 win and his place in the history books. “It is something I have dreamt of since I was a kid,” he said afterwards. “To be No. 1 in the world, to be champion of a Grand Slam… It is something that is really special for me.”

<a href=''>Carlos Alcaraz</a> lays claim to the <a href=''>US Open</a> trophy.

Alcaraz lifts his maiden Grand Slam trophy in New York. Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Draper Wins First Murray Meeting To Extend Indian Wells Debut Run

  • Posted: Mar 14, 2023

Draper Wins First Murray Meeting To Extend Indian Wells Debut Run

Briton to face Alcaraz or Griekspoor in fourth round

Jack Draper was starstruck the first few times he met Andy Murray, but the 21-year-old Briton showcased star power of his own Monday night with a classy performance against his countryman at the BNP Paribas Open.

Draper won the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting 7-6(6), 6-2 for his second straight victory against a fellow Briton in Indian Wells, having beaten Daniel Evans in the second round. He saved a set point with an ace at 5-6 in the opening set, then rattled off the final four games to seal a famous result, clinching it on a double fault for his third break of the match.

“I’ve looked up to Andy since I was so young. I watched him win Wimbledon for the first time in 2013 and then I’ve had the opportunity to get to know him and practise with him often since 2019,” the 6-foot-4 lefty said post-match. “He’s a really special person, a great champion, great human being and I’m privileged to play against him on this court.”

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In a two-hour match full of entertaining exchanges, Draper won just enough of them to claim an up-and-down opening set before driving his advantage home in the second by leaning on his lefty serve and forehand. He also attacked the net to great effect throughout, winning 18 of his 26 points from the frontcourt.

“I want to keep on trying to impose my game and use my weapons,” Draper said of his ventures forward. “It’s not easy in these conditions. It’s quite slow tonight, the wind was a bit swirly and obviously playing against Andy, he makes it incredibly awkward for you. It’s something I’m looking to improve with my coach and it’s definitely starting to pay off a little bit more.”

The first of two distinct sets saw 10 break points, with Draper creating seven of them. The Indian Wells debutant made an early statement by powering to a 3-1 lead, but dropped serve to love as he attempted to serve the set out at 5-4. With both men alternating between moments of magic and madness, the set ticked toward a tie-break after consecutive deuce games from 5-5. Draper showed great resilience to fire an ace after gifting Murray a set point and never trailed in a neck-and-neck tie-break.

Set two, by contrast, was dominated by serve, with just two points going to the returner in the first five games. That changed when Draper broke for 4-2, and he escaped 15/40 in the ensuing game before breaking from 40/0 to clinch the win.

The competitors shared an extended embrace at the net post-match, having become good friends despite the 14-year gap in their ages. With the victory, Draper moves within one win of matching his best ATP Masters 1000 result, a quarter-final run in Cincinnati last season.

<a href=''>Andy Murray</a>, <a href=''>Jack Draper</a>
Photo credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Up 13 places to No. 43 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings this week, five spots off his career high, he is now guaranteed to finish this week above Murray.

Next up for Draper will be top seed Carlos Alcaraz or Dutchman Tallon Griekspoor, who are set to close the day’s play on the stadium court. Should it be another marquee matchup against Alcaraz, Draper is ready.

“Beating Dan and Andy, that’s about as much confidence as I’d need for that match,” he said. “Carlos is another level up, he’s been No 1 in the world, had an exceptional year last year, so it would be amazing to play him again in another real battle.”

The pair met last October in Basel, where Alcaraz came from behind to pull out a 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 win.

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Pressure? What Pressure? Fritz Races Into 4th Round

  • Posted: Mar 14, 2023

Pressure? What Pressure? Fritz Races Into 4th Round

American drops just three games against Baez

Taylor Fritz’s title defence at the BNP Paribas Open moved into high gear Monday when the American dropped just three games in a scorching third-round win over Sebastian Baez.

After needing to rally from a set down in Saturday’s opener against countryman Ben Shelton, Fritz dominated the World No. 35 Argentine 6-1, 6-2 to set up a fourth-round meeting with Hungarian veteran Marton Fucsovics.

Defending 1000 points this week, 25-year-old Fritz finds himself at No. 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, having come into the tournament at a career-high No. 5. The California native is acutely aware what’s at stake, but showed no signs of the pressure he is playing under against Baez.

“I’m trying to take it like it’s any other tournament, but I’m reminded that I’m defending the title every, like, hour or so,” Fritz said with a smile. “It’s tough to forget that, but I am trying to take it like how it is.”

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Fritz said that he was focussed more on the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, hoping to return to the Nitto ATP Finals after making his debut in Turin last year. “We start over at zero, the race, the race is the race. I’m just trying to have good results to put myself in the best position to end the year at the highest spot in the race.

Fritz won the first four games against Baez in a dominant start — though he had to erase a break point in the first game. The fifth seed served for a 6-0 second set but instead served out the win to love on his second attempt.

In the one-hour, 10-minute match, Fritz lost just three points on first serve (21/24) and finished with 19 winners. He broke the Baez serve six times on 12 chances, denying the Argentine his first Top 5 win.

Fucsovics was also off the court quickly, requiring one hour, 18 minutes to move past Molcan 6-4, 6-2. The Hungarian did not face a break point in the match, losing just six total points on serve.

The 31-year-old Fucsovics, who this week is up 11 places to No. 73 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, began the year at the Challenger level, winning the Canberra title. Soon after he pushed Jannik Sinner to five sets in the Australian Open third round but came into Indian Wells on the back of a first-round loss in Dubai qualifying.

Tuesday’s meeting between Fritz and Fucsovics will open the pair’s ATP Head2Head series.

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