Miami Open: Carlos Alcaraz beats Dusan Lajovic to reach last 16
World number one Carlos Alcaraz cruises into the last 16 of the Miami Open with victory over Dusan Lajovic.
World number one Carlos Alcaraz cruises into the last 16 of the Miami Open with victory over Dusan Lajovic.
Carlos Alcaraz continued his ‘Sunshine Double’ quest in style Sunday, overcoming Dusan Lajovic 6-0, 7-6(5) to reach the fourth round at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
Arriving off his title run in Indian Wells, the World No. 1 has quickly adapted to the faster conditions in Miami, where he is the defending champion. In a high-quality performance, the top seed overpowered Lajovic with his relentless aggression on return and he demonstrated incredible agility to cover the court and repel attacks from the Serbian.
The Spaniard, who hit 27 winners to Lajovic’s eight, recovered from failing to serve out the match at 5-4 in the second set against Lajovic, recomposing himself to seal his eighth consecutive straight-sets win on his fourth match point in one hour and 31 minutes.
“I feel fast on court, I am moving well,” said Alcaraz, who is now 16-1 on the season. “I am happy with the variety I am playing [with]. Lots of shots. I am enjoying every single second out there.”
The 19-year-old needs to lift his fourth ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Miami to prevent Novak Djokovic from replacing him as No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He will continue his title defence against Tommy Paul.
Making his third appearance in South Florida, Alcaraz holds fond memories at the hard-court event. He defeated Casper Ruud in last year’s final, dropping just one set en route to the trophy.
Paul reached the fourth round in Miami for the first time with a 6-3, 7-5 victory against Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. The American, currently No. 18 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, has enjoyed an impressive season, highlighted by his run to the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January.
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The 19-year-old Alcaraz will become the youngest man to win the coveted ‘Sunshine Double’ with another title run in Miami. Roger Federer was the last man to win the ‘Sunshine Double’ in 2017.
Holger Rune has had no trouble settling in to his main-draw debut at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
The seventh-seeded Dane notched his second consecutive straight-sets victory on Sunday by seeing off Diego Schwartzman 6-4, 6-2 to book his spot in the fourth round at the ATP Masters 1000 event. Up against the resilient Schwartzman for the first time, Rune converted all four break points he earned to seal a 92-minute victory and quieten the vociferous Argentine support on Court Butch Buchholz.
“It was very important [to get in front early],” said Rune after the match. “Diego is very strong… My focus was really to be strong every time I played to put him under pressure, and I did that very well. I’m super happy at how composed I stayed today.”
Rune around 🏃♂️🌪@MiamiOpen debutant @holgerrune2003 delights the Danish fans with a 6-4, 6-2 masterclass#MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/abEZec5hku
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 26, 2023
Prior to the tournament, Rune had spoken of his desire to create positive memories at Hard Rock Stadium after he was forced to retire injured during qualifying last year. The 19-year-old has certainly started well in chasing that goal in Florida, where he overcame Marton Fucsovics in his opening match.
Rune’s all-around game appeared in good working order against Schwartzman. His powerful forehand was instrumental in the Dane finishing with 25 winners to Schwartzman’s eight. Rune’s break of the Argentine’s serve in the opening game of the match proved enough to ultimately clinch the first set and he then broke three more times in the second as the World No. 8’s razor-sharp returning proved too much for Schwartzman to handle.
“It’s 30 degrees… So it was going to be very tough physically [if I didn’t stay on the front foot],” said Rune. “My focus was really to step in every time I could and play my game. I think there were a few rallies where I didn’t, but 95 per cent of the match was played on my terms, which was what I wanted.
“I’m super happy that I was able to break him and I only got broken once, because he is super strong as a return player.”
Clinical performance 👏@holgerrune2003 executes some very attacking 🎾 as he moves on in Miami 📈#TennisInsights | @atptour | @MiamiOpen pic.twitter.com/DffAhUNijo
— Tennis Insights (@tennis_insights) March 26, 2023
Rune, who lifted his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown at the Rolex Paris Masters in November, will meet ninth seed Taylor Fritz or 24th seed Denis Shapovalov next in Florida. The teenager is now 14-6 for the season as he looks to back up his stellar 2022, when he lifted his first three ATP Tour trophies and cracked the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time.
Four sets played, four sets won for Andrey Rublev at this year’s Miami Open presented by Itau.
On Sunday, the sixth seed backed up his opening-round victory against J.J. Wolf by dispatching Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1, 6-2 to reach the fourth round at the hard-court ATP Masters 1000 event.
In a dominant display, Rublev timed his forehand cleanly throughout the 58-minute clash, striking the ball through 2022 quarter-finalist Kecmanovic on the fast courts to improve to 2-0 in their ATP Head2Head series.
Rublev’s fourth-round opponent will be Jannik Sinner or Grigor Dimitrov. Rublev is a 12-time tour-level titlist, a tally which includes five ATP 500 crowns, but is chasing his first Masters 1000 title in Florida.
The 25-year-old arrives in Miami off the back of a fourth-round exit in Indian Wells. His best result at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Miami came in 2021, when he reached the semi-finals.
Frances Tiafoe withstood a ferocious returning assault from Japan’s Yosuke Watanuki to sneak into the third round of the Miami Open presented by Itau in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Tiafoe needed six match points to see off the swashbuckling 24-year-old World No. 123, who crushed 55 winners (including 28 off the forehand side) and kept the American on his toes by taking huge cuts on returns.
“It was brutal tonight, just one of those nights you try to get over the line,” Tiafoe said. “I was a little frustrated as I had never seen him play and he played very well and was hitting incredibly from the baseline.
“He was playing lights out and I was on the back foot a lot. He played a helluva match tonight, so give respect where respect is due. He was so red hot but I was hoping his level might drop in glimpses and I did a good job of taking advantage when it did.”
A semi-finalist at last week’s BNP Paribas Open, Tiafoe is sitting at a career-high No. 14 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, with the goal of setting a new mark in Miami. He next faces Italian Lorenzo Sonego, who backed up his first-round win over former US Open champion Dominic Thiem with a three-set win over Daniel Evans.
Tiafoe’s countryman Ben Shelton did not enjoy similar success, falling to wily French veteran Adrian Mannarino 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
British 11th seed Cameron Norrie suffered a surprise 6-3, 6-2 defeat to another Frenchman, Gregorie Barrere, who came into Miami having lost first round at the Phoenix Challenger and the BNP Paribas Open.
Talented Canadian Denis Shapovalov has made a slow start to his 2023 season. The lefty owns a 6-6 record entering his third-round match at the Miami Open presented by Itau and has not won consecutive matches since the Australian Open.
But as the 23-year-old has battled adversity, he has kept the big picture in mind.
“I think at the end of the day, first of all if things are not going well, you can have it way worse. I’m fortunate enough to be in the position that I am and trying to be the best possible,” Shapovalov told ATPTour.com. “But it’s just a sport. It’s just a game. Obviously I want to be better and sometimes I’m frustrated on the court. But I think I do a good job of just not carrying it over because we’re very lucky. I’m living a good life.
“I think in general being a person, it’s different. You’re an athlete but at the end of the day you’re a person, so I always try to treat people like I’d want to be treated. I think it’s from my upbringing as well.”
According to Shapovalov, “life in general has been pretty awesome”. Despite losing five of his past seven matches, he has kept things in perspective.
“I think a big part of that is obviously Mirjam [Bjorklund], my girlfriend. First of all we’ve just been able to spend a lot more time together and do fun stuff,” Shapovalov said. “I feel like wherever we are, we always think of fun things to do, things to see and restaurants and stuff like that to go to. I just feel like life is super fun.
“I’m enjoying it a lot, being by her side. I think she’s an amazing person and she makes me very happy. Not much more you can ask for.”
In Miami, Shapovalov enjoyed supporting Bjorklund from the stands as she qualified for the prestigious tournament and advanced to the second round of the main draw. Away from the court, you would not know the Canadian has not had the best start to the season.
“It’s always about manners, it’s honestly about always treating people the way I would want to be treated,” Shapovalov said. “It doesn’t really matter if you’re the best player in the world, the worst player in the world. It’s a separate thing in my opinion than being a person.”
All is not bad on the court, either. The Canadian has achieved plenty in tennis.
Shapovalov has cracked the Top 10 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, claimed more than $10 million in prize money and earned thousands if not millions of fans around the world with his dynamic, aggressive game.
The 2019 Miami semi-finalist knows that when his game starts clicking, he will again be able to challenge the best players on the ATP Tour.
“One hundred per cent. I think that’s always kind of been my game. I’m going to have ups and downs and that’s just kind of the way it goes when you’re an aggressive player,” Shapovalov said. “I just need to sort of stick to my core values, stick to my game, and know that I’m going to have some good runs and some bad runs.”
Shapovalov will hope Miami marks the start of a good run. The lefty plays No. 1 American Taylor Fritz in the third round.
In what will go down as one of the best comebacks and matches of the year, 2021 Miami Open presented by Itau champion Hubert Hurkacz saved five match points en route to a memorable 6-7(10), 7-6(7), 7-6(6) victory against Thanasi Kokkinakis on Saturday evening.
Hurkacz saved three match points in the second-set tie-break and another two in the final-set tie-break, ultimately finding a way to win after three hours and 31 minutes, marking the longest best-of-three match of the season.
“It’s tough to explain for me. I knew I was playing good tennis, I mean Thanasi [was] as well,” Hurkacz said directly after his win. “I was just trying to stay in there and compete, play some good shots. Either way, if I won or I lost — obviously I wanted to win so, so much — but either way [I] should have been happy with myself.”
The eighth seed saved the first three match points at 4/6, 5/6 and 6/7 in the second-set tie-break. On the first of those points, Kokkinakis jammed himself on a forehand volley right on top of the net, then missed forehands on the next two.
But perhaps the most jaw-dropping match point save came when the Australian served at 6/4 in the final-set tie-break. After missing his first serve, Kokkinakis delivered a slice second serve into the body and Hurkacz responded by deflecting the pace up the line for a return winner. The disbelief was clear on Kokkinakis’ face.
“Just felt he was going to go for another one,” Hurkacz said, recalling an earlier second-serve ace from the Australian.
Hurkacz hit an ace to save the fifth match point he faced. The Pole wasted no time closing out the gripping encounter on his first opportunity, playing stunning defence to force an error out of Kokkinakis.
“Stealing a couple of points puts a little bit more pressure on the opponent and then sometimes the opponent tries to go for a bit extra and [with] that bit extra, you can miss that shot,” Hurkacz said. “I was trying to make an effort to compete for every single ball and put some pressure.”
It was a thrilling atmosphere on Grandstand, where Kokkinakis rallied the crowd to his side and earlier saved six set points in the first-set tie-break, which he won.
There was just one service break per player, with Hurkacz hitting 21 aces and Kokkinakis 23. The previous longest best-of-three matches in 2023 lasted three hours and 26 minutes. Tommy Paul defeated Taylor Fritz 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-6(2) in the Acapulco semi-finals and Bernabe Zapata Miralles beat Roberto Carballes Baena 6-7(6), 6-3, 7-5 in the Cordoba first round.
Kevin Krawietz and Fabrice Martin first competed together at an ITF World Tennis Tour event in 2014. On Saturday, nine years later, they earned their biggest win as a pair.
The German-French duo upset sixth seeds and last week’s Indian Wells champions Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden 7-5, 4-6, 10-4 to reach the second round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.
Krawietz and Martin won a match at both the BNP Paribas Open and the Phoenix ATP Challenger Tour event the past two weeks before losing in the second round. They will try to buck that trend against Dutchmen Robin Haase and Matwe Middelkoop.
There was another upset when Jamie Murray and Michael Venus beat fourth seeds Marcelo Arevalo and Jean-Julien Rojer 6-4, 7-6(10). The Indian Wells quarter-finalists saved four of the five break points they faced to advance.
In other action, Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin maintained their good form with a 7-6(4), 7-6(3) victory over seventh seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos. The reigning Marseille champions and Indian Wells semi-finalists are now 12-6 on the season.
Fifth seeds Lloyd Glasspool and Harri Heliovaara ousted Maxime Cressy and Andreas Mies 6-3, 6-1. Cressy and Mies surged to a 3-0 lead before the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals competitors rallied to claim 12 of the final 13 games.
Daniil Medvedev has wasted little time returning to his winning ways, breezing past Roberto Carballes Baena in the second round of the Miami Open presented by Itau Saturday night.
In his first match since his 19-match winning streak was snapped by Carlos Alcaraz in last Sunday’s BNP Paribas Open final, the former World No. 1 enjoyed the faster conditions inside Hard Rock Stadium as he sprinted to a 6-1, 6-2 victory.
The 2021 US Open champion hit 18 winners to his opponent’s five. Medvedev also had success with the drop shot, perhaps taking a cue from his Indian Wells conqueror, Carlos Alcaraz.
“After my match with Carlos I thought I needed to use that shot more,” Medvedev joked. “I’ve always liked drop shots but it’s not a weapon in my game that I’m going to use 50 times a match. You need to have confidence in the shot and today it worked pretty well.”
The World No. 5 next faces World No. 56 Slovakian Alex Molcan, who defeated Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka 7-6(5), 1-6, 6-2.
Medvedev won three consecutive titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai and last week reached his first final in Indian Wells.
British number two Dan Evans is out of the Miami Open after losing in the second round to Italian Lorenzo Sonego, while Coco Gauff also exits in the women’s singles.