Defending champ Alcaraz rolls into Miami Open 3rd round

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain celebrates after his straight sets victory against Facundo Bagnis of Argentina in their second round match of the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium on 24 March 2023 in Miami Gardens in Florida, USAFP

Defending champion Carlos Alcaraz motored into the third round of the Miami Open with a 6-0 6-2 win over Argentine Facundo Bagnis on Friday while Canada’s Bianca Andreescu upset Greek seventh seed Maria Sakkari to reach the last 32.

The Spanish top seed, looking to back up his Indian Wells triumph with a Miami title to complete the coveted “Sunshine Double”, barely broke a sweat as Bagnis was simply unable to keep pace with the variety in Alcaraz’s game.

“It was a perfect start and I feel ready for this tournament,” said Alcaraz.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain shakes hands at the net after his straight sets victory against Facundo Bagnis of Argentina

Alcaraz was all business as he whipped through the first set in 24 minutes before Bagnis suddenly showed signs of life when he came back from a break down to level the second set at 2-2.

But the fightback by Bagnis proved shortlived as Alcaraz quickly reasserted his authority as he consolidated a break for a 4-2 lead and never looked back.

Alcaraz, who did not drop a set at Indian Wells, must retain his Miami crown to stay ahead of Serbian Novak Djokovic and hold onto top spot in the rankings.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain plays a forehand against Facundo Bagnis of Argentina

In the evening session, Japan’s Taro Daniel crushed world number 15 Alexander Zverev 6-0 6-4 to advance to the third round of the tournament for the first time.

Zverev was far from his best and looked lost on his return games, never forcing a break point against Daniel.

Daniel also upset Italy’s Matteo Berrettini at Indian Wells this month and will next face Emil Ruusuvuori after the Finnish player beat Spanish 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 7-6(5) earlier in the day.

Other winners on the men’s side include Andrey Rublev, Taylor Fritz, Jannik Sinner and Denis Shapovalov.

Andreescu advances

The 22-year-old Andreescu, who has struggled with injuries and form in recent years and is looking for her first title since her 2019 U.S. Open triumph, denied Sakkari any chance to find her rhythm as she fought to a 5-7 6-3 6-4 victory in three hours.

“It’s just another step in gaining most of my confidence back,” Andreescu told reporters. “I’m feeling really good on the court. I’m trying to be as fearless as I can be.

“It’s not always easy, but I feel like I’m getting there.”

Bianca Andreescu of Canada celebrates match point against Maria Sakkari of Greece in their second round match of the Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium on 24 March 2023 in Miami Gardens in Florida, US

Sakkari got the upper hand in the first set with a superb passing shot to break Andreescu for a 4-3 lead but could not hold serve in the next game despite racing out to a 40-0 lead as the Canadian fought back to level at 4-4.

Andreescu staved off the two break points she faced in the next game to pull ahead but Sakkari held serve after falling behind 15-30 and went up another break before closing out the 63-minute set on her serve with a forehand down the line.

The Canadian held to love to open the second set and then consolidated a break for a 4-1 lead en route to forcing a decider where she went up a double break for another 4-1 lead that she would not surrender.

Andreescu will next face 2020 Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin, who beat Ukrainian 28th seed Anhelina Kalinina 6-3 6-4.

Under the lights, second seed Aryna Sabalenka won 24 of the last 27 points to battle past Shelby Rogers 6-4 6-3 and will next face Czech Marie Bouzkova.

In other women’s action, qualifier Varvara Gracheva stunned world number five Ons Jabeur 6-2 6-2 for the biggest win of her career while fifth-seeded Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia fell 6-2 6-3 to Romania’s Sorana Cirstea.

Among the other players advancing on the women’s side were Madison Keys, Barbora Krejcikova and Karolina Pliskova.