Spanish challenges ATP’s No. 10 aiming for Final Four; Sabalenka plays Cirstea
by Daniel Perisse
Miami Gardens, FL (March 28, 2023) – It’s time for a fan-favorite match at the 2023 Miami Open presented by Itaú. One day after defeating Tommy Paul in the fourth round, Carlos Alcaraz will have to face another American player Wednesday night at Hard Rock Stadium, now for a semifinal spot: Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. native Taylor Fritz, the best-ranked US player in the ATP Rankings, at No. 10.
This will be the first time these two players meet. Alcaraz comes from knocking out another American, Voorhees, N.J. native Tommy Paul, the No. 16 seed, 6-4, 6-4, while Fritz also needed two sets to overwhelm Denmark’s Holger Rune, World No. 8, 6-3, 6-4. They play at the Stadium court, not before 8:30 p.m.
After his win, the American said he would be “very excited” to watch his next opponent and expects a “very physical” quarterfinal.
“I do feel like I’m going to have to raise the level even more. I’m happy with how I served today and how I was holding my serve, but I think there are going to be a lot longer points, and it’s going to be a lot more physical. I think it will be a much more physical match,” confessed Taylor Fritz.
On his turn, Carlos Alcaraz was very happy with a win that kept his chances of winning the Sunshine Double this season which would also make him stay as World No. 1 after Miami.
“Well, I watch many matches from Taylor, so I know him a little bit. I think I couldn’t practice with him. I have never played against him, so it’s going to be tough, you know, new opponent for me, a new style of game for me,” explained Alcaraz, whose only thought is to play at “100%”.
“(The injury) Is completely in the past. Right now, I feel healthy, not thinking about my leg. Right now, all I’m thinking is to play at my high level at my 100%, and therefore, I forgot the leg completely.”
Not before 3 p.m. at the Stadium, Italy’s Jannik Sinner and Emil Ruusuvuori from Finland play to determine who will be the other top-half semifinalist.
The No. 10 seed, Sinner cruised past World No. 7 Andrey Rublev 6-2, 6-4 in only 1 hour and 11 minutes. Ruusuvuori, the only unseeded player on this side of the draw, needed three sets to overpower Netherlands’ Botic van de Zandschulp, the No. 26 seed, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
The Italian, who reached the Miami Open final in 2021, affirmed that the conditions are “tough” to play here.
“When there is wind, it’s tough to control the ball. It’s completely different from Indian Wells. But when there is no wind like today, I feel very well. I’ll try to keep it going for the next match,“ commented Sinner, who holds a 4-0 head-to-head lead against the Finnish.
Coincidentally, this will be the third consecutive year the 2021 Miami Open finalist faces the rival from Finland: in 2021, the Italian won 6-3, 6-2 in the fourth round, and last year he beat the Finnish in a three-setter, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(8).
“It’s going to be a fun one. I’ve played some tough matches against Jannik. We play kind of the same way, we’ve played many times, and we even did a part of pre-season together in Alicante. We know each other very well, he is a very nice guy and has a very nice team. He is a great player,” expressed Ruusuvuori.
On the women’s side, the two matches will determine the bottom-half semifinal. At 1 p.m. on Stadium, Aryna Sabalenka, the No. 2 seed, challenges unseeded Romanian Sorana Cirstea, who has reached back-to-back quarterfinals in Indian Wells and Miami.
“She is playing great tennis, serving well. I think it is going to be great,” said Sabalenka, who has never faced Cirstea in a WTA-Tour match but did part of the pre-season together with her in Dubai.
The 32-year-old Romanian is the only unseeded player remaining in the women’s draw and has beaten players like seed No. 5 Caroline Garcia from France in the second round. She hopes that her run during the last month helps tomorrow.
“I know it’s going to be very tough, but I’ve been winning a lot of matches this American swing, and I have the confidence. I know what I can play.”
Not before 7 p.m. at Stadium, Petra Kvitova plays her fourth Miami Open quarterfinal against Ekaterina Alexandrova. The 33-year-old from the Czech Republic won the only previous match against her rival in the 2020 Australian Open third round, 6-1, 6-2.
In 13 appearances at the Miami Open, Kvitova has a chance of reaching her first semifinal. On her turn, Alexandrova knocked out No. 9 seed Belinda Bencic in the third round and is having her best run so far this season – defeated in the second round in Indian Wells after a first-round bye.
As for the men’s doubles, top seeds Wesley Koolhof from the Netherlands and Neal Skupski from Great Britain take on Mexico’s Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin from France at 1 p.m. on Grandstand, aiming for a semifinal spot in the top part of the draw.
Koolhof and Skupski are the current No. 1 team in the ATP rankings and come from losing the Indian Wells title to India’s Rohan Bopanna and Australian Matthew Ebden. They also reached the semifinals in Adelaide 2 and Acapulco and the quarterfinal at the Australian Open.
On their turn, Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin have won a title in Marseille and reached the Indian Wells semifinals so far in 2023. Their record is now 13-6.
In the women’s doubles, two matches will determine the bottom half semifinal. At 1 p.m. on court Butch Buchholz, No. 8 seeds Nichole Melichar-Martinez from the United States and Ellen Perez from Australia face the Chan sisters Latisha and Hao-Ching, from Chinese Taipei.
This will be the second time they play this season: in Doha, the Chan sisters won 7-6 (5), 1-6, 12-10. Melichar-Martinez and Perez have reached the second round in Indian Wells, and their best result so far in 2023 is the Austin final, having lost to Erin Routliff from New Zealand and Aldila Sutjiadi from Indonesia.
Also on Butch Buchholz, but not before 2:30 p.m., Americans Jessica Pegula and Coco Gauff, seeded as No. 2 in the doubles draw, take on Storm Hunter, from Australia, and Elise Mertens from Belgium, the No. 6 seeds.
Pegula and Gauff have reached the Australian Open semifinal and won the title in Doha. Since then, they played two tournaments together and have not advanced beyond the second round.
Hunter partnered with Mertens for the Australian Open and Indian Wells, reaching the quarterfinal in both tournaments.
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.