World No. 1 Cruises; WTA No. 2 seed Sabalenka also clinches victory
by Daniel Perisse
Miami Gardens, FL (March 24, 2023) – There aren’t many things as sacred as Happy Hour on a Friday night in Miami, even Carlos Alcaraz was aware of that. The World No. 1 delighted fans for a little bit more than 60 minutes in a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis at Hard Rock Stadium.
Less than a week after ending Daniil Medvedev’s 19-win streak in the Indian Wells final, Alcaraz showed no signs of difficulty during the second-round match against the Argentinian. He lost only seven points in the first set and won 6-0 for the second time in three sets against Bagnis – their previous encounter was a 6-4, 6-0 triumph for the Spaniard in the Umag quarterfinals last year.
“Well, it is different to be back here as a defending champion. Obviously, it is great to play here. I would say it is no different to play a first round here than last year. I would say the only difference is that I played in the center court and last year I was not there. It’s that difference only,” affirmed Alcaraz.
The Argentinian tried to spoil the fun by leveling 2-2 in the beginning of the second set, but his party was close to an end: Alcaraz kept his focus and clinched the win.
“I always say the same when I come into a tournament: for me, it is a new tournament. It’s day by day, round by round, try to play my best every day, try to enjoy every match as well. That’s the only goal and only thoughts on my mind in every match,” added the Spaniard.
He now faces Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic, who defeated American Maxime Cressy, the No. 30 seed and famous for his serve-and-volley tactics, 6-4, 7-6 (2).
Opening the evening schedule at the Stadium, Aryna Sabalenka defeated Charleston resident Shelby Rogers 6-4, 6-3 in 1 hour and 20 minutes. The World No. 2 called a medical timeout before the second game of the final set and seemed to have some trouble moving but was able to recover from a 3-1 deficit and win.
“For now I feel fine, I’ll try to fix this problem as soon as possible, hopefully I’ll be ready for the next match. It’s always a tough match against her (Rogers), so I am happy because even struggling with my leg a little bit I was able to finish in two sets,” explained Sabalenka.
The WTA World No. 2 now plays against Czech Marie Bouzkova, the No. 31 seed, who prevailed over Anna Blinkova 3-6, 6-4, 6-3. This will be the first time they face each other on the WTA Tour.
“She is a great player, she is putting a lot of balls back, so I have to be ready for more rallies and be focused and ready knowing that the ball will come back and be ready to play an extra shot.”
Another player keeping her dream alive is Bianca Andreescu. Today she overcame No. 7 seed Maria Sakkari from Greece 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 and clinched a spot into the third round, where she will face Pembroke Pines, Fla. resident Sofia Kenin. The 2020 Australian Open champion is also in great shape and today knocked off Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina, the No. 28 seed, 6-3, 6-4.
“I think she’s playing great tennis. I’ve watched a few of her matches this year. I know that she might not be doing as well as she’s hoping, but same with me. So, I think it’s going to be an interesting matchup. She’s had amazing results, and I’ve played her a few times. So, yeah, hopefully I can do well,” said the Canadian about her next opponent.
Andreescu leads 3-1 the head-to-head against Kenin. They played once in Miami in 2019, in a second-round clash, and the Canadian won 6-3, 6-3.
On Grandstand, No. 3 seed Casper Ruud had no issues to prevail over Ilya Ivashka 6-2, 6-3. Last year’s Men’s Singles runner-up, the Norwegian’s next opponent will be Netherlands’ Botic van de Zandschulp, seeded No. 28.
Holger Rune from Denmark, the No. 7 in the draw, also advanced to the third round by taking down Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 7-5. The Danish will now be challenged by Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, the No. 31 seed – today he defeated Yibing Wu from China 7-6 (1), 6-1.
Earlier in the day, No. 6 seed Andrey Rublev defeated Indian Hill, Ohio native J. J. Wolf 7-6 (3), 6-4 and booked a third-round match against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, who needed three sets to beat France’s Ugo Humbert 6-4, (5) 6-7, 7-6 (3).
Italy’s Jannik Sinner, the No. 10 seed also won his opening test, defeating Serbia’s Laslo Djere 6-4, 6-2. Now he faces Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, seeded at No. 21, who needed three sets to overcome German qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4.
Returning from a knee injury and struggling with other health issues during the second set, Ons Jabeur, the WTA draw No. 4 seed, ended up losing to qualifier Varvara Gracheva, 6-2,6-2. That was the 22-year-old’s first win against a top 5 player in the WTA. Another seeded player that was knocked out was France’s Caroline Garcia, the No. 5 in the draw, who was upset by Sorana Cirstea from Romania 6-2, 6-3.
Friday’s matches at the Miami Open ended with a huge upset. Wild card Taro Daniel ousted No.13 seed Alexander Zverev from Germany, 6-0, 6-4, to set a third-round clash against Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori, who also defeated a seeded player: No. 22 Roberto Bautista Agut from Spain, 6-4, 7-6 (5).
It’s the second time in 2023 that Zverev loses the opening match of a tournament: in Doha, he also advanced straight to the second round and was beat by Andy Murray in three sets. The German is now 8-9 this season.
You can follow all the men’s and women’s first-round results and the draws here. Tomorrow promises to be a Super Saturday at the Miami Open, with stars Stefanos Tsitsipas, Daniil Medvedev and home favorites Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff as part of the schedule.
Download the order of play for tomorrow and get your tickets here.