Miami Open: Alcaraz charges into third round; Sinner, Fritz win openers


Miami, March 25 (IANS) World No.1 Carlos Alcaraz of Spain defeated Facundo Bagnis in straight games to storm into the third round at the Miami Open while Jannik Sinner of Italy and American Taylor Fritz also advanced in the ATP Tour event here.

Japan’s Taro Daniel continued his hot early-season form and snuffed out Alexander Zverev’s recent revival when he stunned the former World No. 2, 6-0, 6-4 in a second-round match on Friday night.

Returning as defending champion at an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time, Alcaraz picked up where he left off at the Miami Open last year. The Spaniard raced to a 6-0, 6-2 win against Facundo Bagnis in just 65 minutes.

Alcaraz, who needs to lift the trophy in Miami to prevent Novak Djokovic from replacing him as No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, cruised to victory against an opponent who was chasing his maiden Top 10 victory and who never really settled into the second-round clash on Hard Rock Stadium.

Five days ago, Alcaraz delivered an imperious performance to snap Daniil Medvedev’s 19-match winning streak and lift his second title of the season in Indian Wells. The Spaniard did not need to reproduce his level from that match during his Miami opener, however, as he outclassed a wayward and overwhelmed Bagnis, who was playing his first Masters 1000 match in a year.

Sinner, after surging to the final on his event debut in 2021 and reaching the quarter-finals last year, kick-started his 2023 campaign here on Friday with a 6-4, 6-2 victory against Laslo Djere.

Although the 21-year-old Italian struggled to find his best level at times during his 84-minute triumph here, the 10th seed’s sharp returns proved enough to move past the World No. 58 Djere. Sinner converted five of 10 break points to improve his season record against opponents outside the Top 50 of the ATP Rankings to 13-0.

The seven-time tour-level titlist Sinner, who fell to Hubert Hurkacz in the 2021 Miami final and reached the semifinals in Indian Wells last week, is chasing his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Miami. He now holds a 9-2 record at Hard Rock Stadium, where his third-round opponent will be 21st seed Grigor Dimitrov or qualifier Jan-Lennard Struff.

Taylor Fritz put together a big mid-match streak en route to a 6-4, 6-1 win against his countryman Emilio Nava. The ninth seed reeled off seven games in a row from 4-4 in the first set to take control of his meeting with 21-year-old Nava, who had beaten former Miami champion John Isner for just his second tour-level win in the first round.

The one-sided scoreline masked some early difficulties for Fritz, who was broken in the opening game as Nava’s ultra-aggressive tactics initially paid dividends on Hard Rock Stadium. Fritz, who reached the fourth round in Miami in 2021 and 2022, reclaimed the break in the next game and then effectively adjusted his tactics to accelerate to a 60-minute triumph.

In other matches on Friday, Norway’s third-seeded Casper Ruud defeated Ilya Ivashka 6-2, 6-3; Andrey Rublev overcame American J.J. Wolf 7-6(3), 6-4 while Denis Shapovalov of Canada got the better of Guido Pella of Argentina, 6-3 3-6 6-3 and Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland stunned seasoned Spanish campaigner Roberto Bautista Agut, seeded 22 here, 6-4 7-6(5).



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