Tsitsipas, Rublev Make Winning Start at Miami Open


image: Stefanos Tsitsipas at play

By Daniel Perissé

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev cruised past their debut opponents and advanced into the third round of the 2021 Miami Open presented by Itaú this Saturday, March 27th.

Second-seeded Tsitsipas defeated Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 6-4 in over an hour. This was the Greek’s second win against Dzumhur in five matches.

The World No. 5 books a meeting against Japan’s Kei Nishikori, who needed three sets to edge Aljaz Bedene, from Slovenia, 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4.

“He’s a player that has played very well in the past, and even now he can raise his level really high. I’ll try and be ready for the battle. It’s important for me to have matches against strong opponents like him. I am very pumped for the match and I’m going to try and put my best performance out there,” said Tsitsipas, who is the third player to reach 15 wins this season.

Opening the night session on Grandstand, Rublev dismissed Gallatin, TN, native Tennys Sandgren 6-1, 6-2 in one hour and 10 minutes. Not even a one-hour rain delay was able to stop the Russian, who had 16 winners. The No. 4 seed advances to face Hungary’s Martin Fucsovics, who defeated Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis 7-6(3), 6-7(4), 6-4.

Earlier in the day, Milos Raonic, the No. 12 seed, cruised past Australia’s Jordan Thompson 6-2, 6-1 in an hour. The Canadian had 14 aces and won 22 out of 23 first serve points. His opponent in the third round will be France’s Ugo Humbert, who beat Portuguese Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-4 and scored his first win in Miami.

Elsewhere, 19-year-old Italian Lorenzo Musetti dismissed No. 23 seed Benoit Paire 6-3, 6-3 in an hour and booked a meeting against former World No. 3 Marin Cilic, who needed two hours and 44 minutes to fight past Chile’s Cristian Garin, the No. 13 seed, 3-6, 7-5, 7-6(5).  Another player from Italy that advanced into the third round was Lorenzo Sonego, who defeated Pittsburgh native Bjorn Fratangelo 6-4, 7-6(5).

Sonego’s next opponent is Daniel Galan, from Colombia, who upset Australia’s Alex de Minaur, the No. 15 seed, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, in two hours and 35 minutes.

Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz defeated Arlington, VA, native Denis Kudla 7-6(5), 6-4 and sets a clash against Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The No. 6 seed overcame Belarus’ Ilya Ivashka 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-4. Although Hurkacz won two out of three previous meetings, the Canadian triumphed 6-4, 6-3 the last time they met, this season in Dubai, and believes in another hard match:

“Definitely very tough player. We have played many times, so, you know, definitely a super tough battle ahead of us. We played recently in Dubai and I was able to play really well. But of course it’s different conditions, so, you know, looking forward to a tough match”.

Adrian Mannarino, the No. 25 seed, defeated Serbia’s Miomir Kecmanovic 7-5, 6-7(5) 6-1 and advances to play Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, who beat Japanese Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3, 6,3.

Elsewhere, Russian Aslan Karatsev needed one hour and 21 minutes to beat Kazakhstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin 6-4, 6-3. His next opponent will be Bradenton’s Sebastian Korda. The 20-year-old overcame Italian Fabio Fognini, the No. 10 seed, 1-6, 6-4, 6-2.

 In the Women’s singles draw, wild card Ana Konjuh continued her strong run after beating Poland’s Iga Swiatek 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 in 2 hours and 14 minutes. The former World No. 20 plays now Anastasija Sevastova. The Latvian advanced to the fourth round after No.3 seed Simona Halep withdrew due to a right shoulder injury.

In the second match on Court 1, Elina Svitolina defeated Russia’s Ekaterina Alexandrova 7-6(1), 6-4 in one hour and 37 minutes and advances to play against Czech Petra Kvitova. The No. 9 seed edged British Johanna Konta, 6-1, 6-2 in 58 minutes.

Aryna Sabalenka and Marketa Vondrousova have set a fourth-round clash. While the player from Belarus, the No. 7 seed, defeated Russia’s Veronika Kumerdetova 7-6(4), 6-4, Vondrousova upset Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic, the No. 11 seed, in three sets, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4.