Australian Open victor and WTA World No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka also makes debut
by Daniel Perisse
Miami Gardens, FL (March 23, 2023) – The time has come for Carlos Alcaraz. Last year’s Miami Open presented by Itaú men’s singles winner starts the quest for the title defense this Friday, March 24, in a second-round match against Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis.
This will also be the first time that the Magic City fans will see the Spaniard play as World No. 1, a position he reclaimed after winning the Indian Wells Masters 1000 a week ago. According to the order of play, Alcaraz and Bagnis will play the third match of the day session at the Stadium.
“I have a lot of great supporters here that are supporting me. I remember last year there was an unbelievable feeling with the crowd, there is a lot of people who speak Spanish as well, so I feel like home. For me playing here great matches against great players and had an amazing run last year, so I’m really excited to come here in front of all the fans here. I can’t wait to play,” exclaimed Alcaraz.
The Spaniard won the only previous match against the 33-year-old Argentinian: a 6-4, 6-0 in the Umag quarterfinals last year.
Opening the evening session at the Stadium, at 7 p.m., Aryna Sabalenka challenges Charleston resident Shelby Rogers. The 2022 Australian Open champion appears as the No. 2 seed in Miami and comes from losing the WTA Indian Wells final to Elena Rybakina.
Sabalenka is 17-2 this season and leads the head-to-head 3-0 against Rogers – the American was her second-round opponent of the victorious run at this year’s Australian Open, 6-3, 6-1.
At 12 p.m., Stadium play opens with the clash between No. 7 seed Maria Sakkari and former Miami Open finalist Bianca Andreescu. Both players split victories in two previous meetings that ended in three sets: the Canadian won 7-6 (7), 3-6, 7-6 (4) in the 2021 Miami Open semifinals, while the Greek prevailed in the fourth round of the US Open of that same season, 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-3.
Two of the top ten men’s singles seeded players will be performing on the Grandstand: No. 6 seed Andrey Rublev takes on Indian Hill, Ohio native J. J. Wolf at 11 a.m., while No. 3 seed and last year’s Miami Open runner-up Casper Ruud faces Ilya Ivashka not before 7 p.m.
Also on Grandstand, Ons Jabeur, the WTA draw No. 4 seed, plays against qualifier Varvara Gracheva. The Tunisian has prevailed in their only previous clash, a three-setter last year in Madrid: 7-5, 0-6, 6-4. France’s Caroline Garcia, seeded at No. 5, challenges Sorana Cirstea from Romania.
Germany’s Alexander Zverev, the No. 13 seed and Miami Open men’s singles finalist in 2018, takes on wild card Taro Daniel, from Japan, in the last Stadium match on the schedule for tomorrow, not before 8:30 p.m.
You can follow all the men’s and women’s first-round results and the draws here.
Download the order of play for tomorrow and get your tickets here.