ATP

Alcaraz downs Bagnis in Miami opener, Zverev knocked out by wild card

By Sports Desk March 24, 2023

World number one Carlos Alcaraz wasted no time in advancing to the Miami Open third round with a straight-sets win over Facundo Bagnis in just 64 minutes, while 13th seed Alexander Zverev suffered an early exit on Friday.

Reigning US Open champion Alcaraz eased past Bagnis 6-0 6-2, firing 12 winners and three aces for the match, committing only 11 unforced errors.

The Spaniard won the first set in 24 minutes, marking the first time he has won an opening frame 6-0 at an ATP Masters 100 event. It was also the first bagel he has dished out since beating Bagnis in Umag last year.

"I knew that I needed to be focused for my first match," Alcaraz said after his win, having triumphed in Indian Wells last week. "To start a new tournament is never easy, different conditions.

"I have to be ready to get used to these new conditions, but I was really focused on the match from the beginning, and I'm happy with the way that I played. I try to improve every day."

Alcaraz will face Dusan Lajovic after he beat 30th seed Maxime Cressy 6-4 7-6 (7-2), having knocked off Andy Murray in the first round.

Zverev was the highest seed to bow out on Friday, going down 6-0 6-4 to Japan's Taro Daniel, who beat world number four Casper Ruud last month in Acapulco.

Daniel triumphed in 73 minutes against the German, hitting 17 winners and committing only two unforced errors for the match, while Zverev gave up 18.

The Japanese wild card will meet Emil Ruusuvuori in the third round after the Finn beat 22nd seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4 7-6 (7-5) to open up that section of the draw.

Third seed Ruud also had few problems getting past Ilya Ivashka 6-2 6-3 to set up a clash with Botic van de Zandschulp after his three-set win over Alexei Popyrin.

Sixth seed Andrey Rublev overcame J.J. Wolf 7-6 (7-3) 6-4, having been broken in the opening game of what was a tight contest.

Jannik Sinner beat Laslo Djere 6-4 6-2, marking his 16th win out of 20 appearances at the Sunshine Double (Indian Wells and Miami), with only three other players – Novak Djokovic, Alcaraz and Hubert Hurkacz – having as many wins within their first 20 matches.

Ninth seed Taylor Fritz defeated fellow American Emilio Nava 6-4 6-1, and will face Denis Shapovalov in round three after he beat Guido Pella 6-3 3-6 6-3.

American 16th seed Tommy Paul came from a set down to beat Marc-Andrea Huesler 5-7 6-3 6-4, while seventh seed Holger Rune beat Martin Fucsovics 6-3 7-5.

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    Ruud went on to reach his first grand slam final here last year and then repeated the feat at the US Open, although he came out on the losing side both times.

    This season has been a struggle by contrast but there are signs the 24-year-old is starting to find his form and he recovered from a set down to beat China’s Zhang Zhizhen 4-6 6-4 6-1 6-4.

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    “I’m very happy with being through the first three matches. It’s tough. For me this year it’s been much more pressure, obviously, compared to last year.”

    Last year’s tournament was Rune’s breakthrough, and the young Dane has maintained his momentum, breaking into the top 10 and twice beating Novak Djokovic.

    The 20-year-old is particularly strong on clay and he swatted aside Argentinian qualifier Genaro Alberto Olivieri 6-4 6-1 6-3.

    Rune has only had to play two matches so far having been given a walkover by Gael Monfils in the second round.

    “Luckily I haven’t used too much unnecessary energy during the tournament so far,” he said. “I’m in the fourth round and I can play better, so it’s a good thing. But obviously the matches are going to get harder and harder from now so I have to step up also.”

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    Organisers have again come under fire after only picking one women’s match across the fortnight last year.

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