Alcaraz breezes, Swiatek ruled out in All-star Monday Night Tennis at the Miami Open



by Daniel Perisse

On court were top seeds Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek.

In the audience, Miami Heat leading man Jimmy Butler, Neymar Jr, one of soccer’s greatest, and former US Open winner Juan Martín del Potro.

Those stars witnessed a memorable night of tennis during their visit to Hard Rock Stadium.

The first performance was given by Alcaraz. The World No. 2 defeated tour veteran Gael Monfils 6-2, 6-4, which included several scintillating rallies that electrified the Miami crowd.

The Spaniard took control from the beginning, breaking the 37-year-old Frenchman’s serve twice to clinch the first set. During the second set, both players entertained the crowd with great rallies.  After 1 hour and 13 minutes, the World No. 2 secured the match, extending his win streak to eight victories.

“It’s always great to share the court with Gael. I think that both of us bring great tennis, and great shots to the match. Yeah, I think for the fans it’s great to see both of us playing great tennis, making them enjoy watching tennis. Yeah, for me was a really good match. I think I hit really good shots, moved well, and was really happy with my performance today,” exclaimed the World No. 2.

Alcaraz now plays Lorenzo Musetti. The No.23 seed from Italy halted 21-year-old American Ben Shelton 6-4, 7-6(5). The Spaniard leads the head-to-head 2-1. The match will happen tomorrow at the Stadium, not before 3:30 pm.

Swiatek followed, but it was No. 14 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova who stole the spotlight, upsetting the top-ranked Swaitek 1 6-4, 6-2. The 1 hour, 23 minute victory is all the more impressive when you consider it was her first-ever match against a World No. 1.

“I’m feeling disappointed right now because I was expecting to perform better here in Miami. My opponent played an amazing match and was the better player today. Her serve was difficult to read, as she was able to place it with power, and precision, or mix it up. I struggled to anticipate her serves. I also got a bit tense when my opponent couldn’t return my shots well, which made my game worse,” explained Swiatek after the match.

Five American women were still in the draw at the Round of 16, the most since 2003. However, only two advanced to the quarterfinals: Danielle Collins and Jessica Pegula.

World No. 3 Coco Gauff was halted by Caroline Garcia from France 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. The South Florida native did not play with the same intensity as in her previous two matches in the Stadium.

Garcia broke Gauff’s serve at the beginning of the first set and soon had a 3-0 lead, an advantage she could not trail back. However, the American won the second set 6-1.

“Yeah, it was an up-and-down match. She played aggressively, which I knew was coming in. I think it was important for me to just change the height of the ball, and I did that well for the majority of the second set. Then starting the third with an early break I think just completely changed the momentum,” explained Gauff.

The World No. 3 had a chance of breaking Garcia’s in the very first game of the third set, but the French held. That lost opportunity seemed to affect Coco, as she could not keep up with her opponent for the remainder of the match.

“Yeah, it’s a great match and a great win for me. The last couple of months have not been easy, and today following the match of yesterday it means a lot. It was some great tennis”, commented the French, who defeated a Top-10 player for the first time since 2022.

Up next for Garcia is Collins, a St. Petersburg, Fla. native, who defeated Romania’s Sorana Cirstea, the No. 19 seed, 6-3, 6-2.

Pegula  defeated Charleston resident Emma Navarro 7-6(1), 6-3 to clinch her quarterfinal berth. Next up for the fifth seed, who just scored her first Top 20 win of the season, is Alexandrova.

Maria Sakkari from Greece did not have to play to advance to the quarterfinals, as No.22 seed Anna Kalinskaya had to withdraw with a right thigh injury.

A runner-up at Indian Wells two weeks ago, the eighth seed plays Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan. Today the fourth seed defeated Rock Island, Ill. native Madison Keys, seeded as the No. 17, 6-3, 7-5.

Rybakina is the current Miami Open runner-up and remains undefeated against Americans so far this year (4-0, including a win over Taylor Townsend in the previous round here). She is now 20-3 this season, with two titles in her tally (Melbourne and Abu Dhabi).

Sakkari and Rybakina open the night session slate at the Stadium this Tuesday, March 26th, not before 7 pm.

Victoria Azarenka also advanced to the quarterfinals after a 7-5, 6-1 win over Britain’s Katie Boulter. The three-time Miami Open champion is in the quarterfinals here for the first time since 2018.

“I always love the energy here. I missed the energy of Key Biscayne, but I’ve been saying that for the tournament to keep growing and to keep getting better and bigger this was a necessary move. I think that was the right choice. I feel the Latin vibe here and I have a lot of friends that also motivate me to go out there and play,” commented the No. 27 seed, who now faces Yulia Putintseva. Azarenka usually practices together with the Kazakh, who defeated Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina, the No. 32 seed, 6-4, 7-6(5). They are good friends outside of the court, but they will forget all that when they face off for a place in the semifinal tomorrow at the Stadium, not before 2 pm: “I know her very, very well, so it’s going to be a tough match. She’s one of the players who brings all kinds of shots into the rally, a very high-level competitor. And she can get very crazy, but she’s a very nice person outside of the court. I do like her a lot. But on the court, you know, it is what it is.”

In a battle that lasted 2 hours and 47 minutes, Karen Khachanov defeated Francisco Cerundolo from Argentina 6-1, 5-7, 7-6(5), to advance to the Miami Open Round of 16 for the fourth time.

Khachanov broke the Argentinian’s service three times to clinch the first set 6-1 in 33 minutes. Things were running smoothly for the No. 15 seed but Cerundolo came back and tied the match.

Both players held serve in the third set until the deciding tie-break, in which Khachanov prevailed. He now faces Alexander Zverev, the fourth seed, who needed almost two hours to defeat American Chris Eubanks, the No. 31 seed, 7-6(4),6-3.

In the first set, the German trailed 5-3 but forced a tie-break and ended up winning, counting on many unforced errors from his opponent.

Zverev started the second set with a break and a 4-1 lead, not leaving much leverage for Eubanks.

The Round of 16 match between the German and Khachanov will be Tuesday, not before 8:30 pm.

After upsetting sixth seed Holger Rune in the second round, Hungary’s Fabian Marozsan reached the Round of 16 after beating Australian Alexei Popyrin 7-5, 6-3. With this win, he will move inside the Top 50 after the Miami Open.

The Hungarian will play Australian Alex De Minaur, the ninth seed, who defeated German Jan-Lennard Struff, the No. 24 seed, 7-6(3), 6-4. Their match will not happen before 7 pm on Grandstand.

Another former Miami Open champion still alive is Hubert Hurkacz. A winner at the Hard Rock Stadium in 2021, the Polish advanced to the Round of 16 after overcoming Bradenton, Fla. native Sebastian Korda 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-3, in 2 hours and 15 minutes.

His next opponent will be tour veteran Grigor Dimitrov, who cruised past German Yannick Hanfmann 6-1, 6-0 in 45 minutes. The 32-year-old Bulgarian reaches the Round of 16 in Miami for the third time in his career (2012, 2016).

The clash between Dimitrov and Hurkacz is scheduled for tomorrow at the Grandstand, not before 3:30 pm.

At noon, Stadium play begins with the third seed and defending champion Daniil Medvedev facing off German Dominik Koepfer.

The Grandstand slate begins at 11, with Czech Tomas Machac facing Italy’s Matteo Arnaldi, followed by Norway’s Casper Ruud, the seventh seed, taking on Chile’s Nicolas Jarry, the No. 22 seed, and then World No. 3 Jannik Sinner plays against Christopher O’Connell from Australia.

The entire men’s Round of 16 and only two matches from the women’s quarterfinals will be contested on Tuesday. The slate begins at 11 am on all courts but the Stadium, whose program is scheduled to begin at noon.

Please check the Miami Open website for more information about the order of play and the draws.