Alcaraz powers into last 16 at Miami, Ruud ousted

Tuesday, Mar 28, 2023

MIAMI: World number one Carlos Alcaraz moved into the last 16 of the Miami Open after beating Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic 6-0, 7-6 (7/5) on Sunday as he remains on track for tennis’ “Sunshine Double.”

The 19-year-old Spaniard, who beat Daniil Medvedev to win the title in Indian Wells last week, looked in top condition as he outclassed Lajovic in the first set to keep his Miami title defence on track.

But the Serb was able to provide some tension towards the end of the second set, breaking to make it 5-5 with Alcaraz paying the price for a sloppy return. Alcaraz was 6-2 up in the tie-break, but Lajovic won the next three points before the Spaniard’s big back-hand winner settled the 91-minute contest.

“Everything was under control or I thought it was but, you know, in the match it’s never easy,” Alcaraz said. “The nerves came out. I made a few mistakes that I hadn’t done during the whole match. So it was tough to win the match. But I’m really happy with the level that I’m playing and it was a good match,” he added.

Alcaraz will face Tommy Paul in the last 16 and the American goes into that game on the back of a 12-match winning streak against Spanish players including wins over Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal last year.

“I lost the first and only match that I played against Tommy. I know that he’s a really talented and really tough player, so I have to play at my best and let’s see what’s going to happen,” said Alcaraz.

With Nadal injured and Novak Djokovic barred from entering the US due to his refusal to take a COVID vaccine, Alcaraz is the face of this tournament and the crowd was noticeably bigger on the Hard Rock Stadium court for his game. In the front row of the crowd was Miami Heat NBA star Jimmy Butler who embraced Alcaraz after the match.