Indian Wells | Alcaraz on cruise control but Rublev crashes.

Carlos Alcaraz moved into the last 16 with ease as he racks up the defence of his Indian Wells Masters title in his chase for his first trophy of the season having seemingly stalled after claiming Wimbledon last year.

I think he didn't get that many points with his serves. I think he lives with his serve Carlos Alcaraz

His main rivals in the bottom half of the draw, Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner. Alex de Minaur and Stefanos Tsistsipas, also had comfortable third round victories to progress but Andrey Rublev, has crashed out.

But it was the Alcaraz performance which attracted the most attention as he has had a relative poor run of results (in his terms!) since toppling Novak Djokovic for the Wimbledon Championships.

On Sunday’s performance, the world No.2 showed his fans that he still has the game, variety and power as well as the competitiveness which has fuelled his rise to the top of the game.

The 20-year-old Spaniard cruised past Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime 6-2 6-3 in 77-minutes to reach fourth round where he will play Hungary’s Fabian Marozpan, a 6-2 6-2 winner over Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild.

Alcaraz has only competed in three events this season, reaching the quarter finals in Melbourne (AO) and then failed to defend his title in Buenos Aires before retiring in Rio de Janeiro with an ankle injury some two weeks ago. That injury has not been evident this week.

For the Canadian a good run this season is important as he has slipped out of the top ten and currently languishes at 30 in the world. He obviously had high hopes on Sunday having beaten Alcaraz three times already in their professional careers, with just one loss.


Felix Auger-Aliassime was outgunned by Carlos Alcaraz

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

But as he discovered, Alcaraz has improved and while the pair were matching each other for the first four games, the Canadian couldn’t hold off Alcaraz who broke through to lead 5-2 with Auger Aliassime struggling to keep up.

Having pocketed the first set. Alcaraz maintained the pressure in the second by breaking him in the opening game and nearly made it a double break but this time, the Canadian fended him off successfully but still trailed 3-2.

Alcaraz never looked threatened and beamed following his victory.

“I think he didn’t get that many points with his serves. I think he lives with his serve,” Alcaraz said following his victory.

“I put almost every return in, playing the point. I felt that I’m better than him from the baseline, putting some good points on the court and I think it went well. I played aggressive with less mistakes. I think it was almost a perfect match for me.”

Earlier in the day Tsitsipas got past Frances Tiafoe 6-3 6-3 with little trouble; De Minaur defeated Alexander Bublik 7-5 6-0 while Skinner marched past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-4.

But the big surprise was the removal of Russia’s Andrey Rublev, by the big-hitting 22-year-old Czech, Jiri Lehecka, who required 73-minutes to dispatch the fifth seed 6-4 6-4.

“This was our fourth meeting, so we both kind of knew what we should expect. Last year, I beat him once. But last year here in Indian Wells, I lost easily. So that was something I needed to improve,” Lehecka told ATPTour.com. “I was looking back to the match, trying to see what I did wrong. Of course, the thing is that I’m a bit of a different player now.”

Lehecka hit 31 winners compared to just eight for Rublev, who almost always dictates play in his matches. One year ago, Lehecka managed just six games against Rublev at the same event.

“I feel more confident, and I think that my game also improved. So I knew that I needed to be the one who will hit hard first and that worked well for me today,” Lehecka said. “I tried to focus on my serve, not to give him much freedom. And it worked well.


Jiri Lehecka produced the upset of the day

(Photo by Christopher Pike/Getty Images)

“I always believed in myself. And I always knew, even my team [knew], that I do really have the game to beat these players. But of course, there was still something missing last year,

“Being here for the second time it’s also a big advantage for me [compared to] my first time playing here. I knew what to expect so much easier for me to prepare for these kinds of matches.”

Lehecka next faces the 11th seed Tsitsipas.


Andrey Rublev couldn't stamp his usual authority on the game

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)


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