Men and women’s singles finalists have never won a Miami Open title
by Daniel Perisse
Miami Gardens, FL (March 31, 2023) – The Miami Open will have new singles champions in 2023: Jannik Sinner and Daniil Medvedev will play for the men’s trophy, and Indian Wells winner Elena Rybakina challenges Petra Kvitova looking to complete the Sunshine Double.
Daniil Medvedev opened the Stadium schedule again facing his countryman Karen Khachanov. The World No. 5 needed three sets to win 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-3 in two hours and 17 minutes and will play his first final in Miami.
The match began with Khachanov having two break points in the first game, but he didn’t convert them. It wasn’t until the eighth game for another break opportunity to happen, this time for Medvedev, and he was able to break his rival’s serve in three attempts, opening a 5-3 lead.
However, Khachanov broke back and then held serve, tying the set 5-5. In the tie-break, Medvedev played more consistently and was able to make points out of the No. 14 seed’s serve in the sixth and tenth points, closing 7-5 and opening a 1-0 lead in 1 hour and two minutes.
During the following set, Khachanov was able to break Medvedev in the second game and worked that advantage in his favor, winning 6-3 in 39 minutes.
In the deciding set, Medvedev took the 3-1 lead after breaking serve in the fourth game. After that, he started being more consistent to close 6-3, ending the match and booking his spot in the final.
“He made some mistakes. I think all of them were long, because of new balls. I had old balls and didn’t manage to play well enough in the second set. In my opinion, it was just like here on this surface, which is more like medium hard court, you serve well, you have a few chances, you try to make them, and that’s what happened today. We had just a few chances and we both made them, and I won the tie-break,” affirmed the World No. 5, who now has a 4-1 record against Khachanov.
Despite the loss, Khachanov expressed that it was a very intense match.
“To be honest with you, I think it was really one of the greatest matches lately also I felt from the beginning till the end in terms of level, in terms of speed, you know, intensity, attitude, everything, you know, from the beginning till the end,” he said.
In fact, both players are having a great season: while Medvedev has won three titles, in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai, and triumphed in 23 out of his last 24 matches, while Khachanov has reached back-to-back Grand Slam semifinals at the US Open and the Australian Open.
“I don’t know. I must say it’s maybe a little bit unlucky in a way, but of course he deserves totally to win. You know, I think both of us today really showed our best. We fought hard. I mean, we gave a good match for the crowd,” exclaimed Khachanov, the No. 14 seed.
With today’s win, Medvedev has reached the final in all Masters 1000 and Grand Slams on hard courts. Besides that, this is his fifth straight final: besides the Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai finals, he lost to Alcaraz in Indian Wells.
“It’s great, amazing. Before the tournament, someone, I don’t remember who, asked me if I made finals in all the Masters and Grand Slams on hard courts except here in Miami. Really happy to do it here. For sure the tournament is not over. I have a very important match Sunday. I am really happy with all that’s been happening this year”, affirmed Medvedev.
His opponent will be Jannik Sinner, who prevailed over 2022 Miami Open champion and current World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz in a three-hour exciting match at the Stadium. The Italian overcame the Spanish in three sets, 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-2.
“Oh, for sure it’s one of the best wins. Obviously it was a very tough match against him. I think we both played a very, very high-level match. From my side, I think I changed a couple of things from Indian Wells to here, which I had to, and they went my way. I’m happy about that,” exclaimed the Italian.
The second semifinal had it all. Both players showed intensity from the first point, with a lot of long rallies to delight all the crowd in the Stadium court – in the seventh game, one of these rallies had 25 shots and will probably be remembered as the point of the tournament in 2023.
Sinner was the first to break a serve in the fourth game, leading Alcaraz 3-1. From 4-1, the Italian saw Alcaraz retake the lead 6-5 after another break, but he broke the Spaniard back and they needed a deciding tie-breaker.
He began more consistent and soon had 4-2, breaking Alcaraz. But just as in the previous games, the Spaniard came back and got two more breaks to clinch the first set 7-4, with an ace.
In the second set, the Italian kept his rhythm and opened a 2-0 lead after breaking Alcaraz in the first game. However, the Spaniard came back again and retook the lead 4-3.
The World No. 11 became close to splitting sets in the ninth game, after breaking the current World No.1 without conceding a single point in his serve. Up next, he held his service and won 6-4 in 54 minutes, taking the match to a deciding third set.
From now on, Sinner had total control of the match, while Alcaraz seemed to have lost intensity. Again, the player from Italy broke the Spaniard’s serve and held his own to open a 2-0 lead again. On his turn, Alcaraz was limping a bit around the court and showed clear signs that he had lost focus.
“I started cramping at the beginning of the third set, but it wasn’t the reason why I lost the match. You know, I went back after cramping at the beginning, I started to feel better. But, of course Jannik was better than me in the third set. That’s the truth, you know.”
In fact, the Italian broke Alcaraz again in the seventh game. Following that, he held serve one more time, scoring 6-2 and claiming the match, ending his rival’s ten-match and 21-set winning streaks, and also his aspirations of becoming the youngest player ever to win the Sunshine Double.
With the result today, Novak Djokovic will return to the top of the ATP Ranking, since the Spaniard needed to defend his Miami Open title to stay at World No. 1.
“Well, it was a really close match, I think. I had my opportunities to break in the second set and serving for the match, but really against Sinner is always a tough battle. Yeah, it’s tough to put into words, you know, but I think it was a great match for both,” explained Alcaraz.
Now the head-to-head is 3-3, as the World No. 11 got his revenge from losing to the Spaniard in the Indian Wells semifinal.
This will be Sinner’s second Miami Open final – in 2021, he lost to Hubert Hurkacz in what was his first Masters-1000 decider. Also, he has never defeated Medvedev, having lost all five previous matches against him: the latest was the Rotterdam final, in which he prevailed 5-7, 6-2, 6-2.
“Obviously Sunday is another match. Very, very different match. I never won against Daniil, so let’s see how it goes.”
The second women’s singles finalist was also determined today. After 1 hour and 41 minutes, Czech Petra Kvitova halted Sorana Cirstea dream run in two sets, 7-5, 6-4, and now will challenge Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan for the trophy.
“Yeah, I’m very happy for sure. I waited quite long to be in the final here. I’m happy I made it finally. Yeah, it was very difficult, so I’m very happy to get through and to have a chance to play the final tomorrow,” said the 33-year-old player, who had never advanced beyond the quarterfinals in Miami.
The Romanian, on her turn, started the match more focused and broke Kvitova’s serve in the sixth game, after four chances, to open a 4-2 lead. She had two set points serving at 5-3, but it was the two-time Wimbledon champion who prevailed.
“But I have to say she played quite well. Then at 5-3, 40-15, I mean, she came up with two great returns. I thought I served well, you know. The only thing I can say, maybe I should have picked the other side,” explained the 32-year-old player.
Kvitova then held serve, and in the 11th game she broke Cirstea to take the lead for the first time in the match, 6-5. After that, she held serve again and won the set 7-5 in 58 minutes.
“Well, I think was probably a little bit both sides. I know that she had a 40-15 for serving out the set. I just put two kinds of good returns to the court. She missed a little bit, as well,” explained the Czech.
With the 1-0 lead, the two-time Wimbledon champion opened the second set breaking the Romanian’s serve in the first game, which was key to win the match: after 44 minutes, she had prevailed over Cisrtea, 6-4, in 44 minutes.
“But it goes like this, and then like she really started swinging. For a few games, I think maybe four, I dropped the level. Then as I mentioned, when I came back, it was too late,” added the Romanian.
The 33-year-old Czech is the fourth-oldest finalist of the Miami Open and will try to win her ninth career WTA 1000 title in 13 finals – her last triumph was in 2018 in Madrid.
“I think everything paid off afterwards, and then I kept the momentum from my side and I served better. So that was for sure the key, because she was serving very good for the whole match. It was difficult,” exclaimed Kvitova.
As for Rybakina, she has a chance of winning the Sunshine Double, since the Kazakh won the title in California two weeks ago.
“She’s a big hitter, big server as well. I’m the same. It depends really on how we are going to handle the pressure from the opponent.”
Later in the day, the women’s doubles draw also had its finalists confirmed. Despite the loss to Elena Rybakina in the singles semifinal, Jessica Pegula teamed up with Coco Gauff to win two matches and book a spot in the deciding match. First the No. 2 seeds needed 1 hour and 48 minutes to halt Australian Storm Hunter and Belgium’s Elise Mertens, 6-7(4), 7-5, 10-2.
A couple of hours later, the Buffalo, N.Y. native and the Delray Beach, Fla. resident needed two tie-breaks to defeat Nicole Melichar-Martinez, also from the United States, and another Australian, Ellen Perez, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), in 1 hour and 39 minutes.
Pegula and Coco Gauff will face Taylor Townsend, also from the US, and Canadian Leylah Fernandez, who defeated Magda Linette from Poland and Bernarda Pera, another American, 1-6, 6-2, 14-12. The women’s doubles final is scheduled for Sunday, April 2.
You can follow all the results and the men’s and women’s singles and doubles draws here.
Download the order of play for tomorrow and get your tickets here.