For the second time in the tournament, Carlos Alcaraz inflicted a bagel set on his opponent as he continues to march towards the final of the Miami Open Masters where he is favourite to retain the title he won last year.
I feel fast on court, I am moving well, I am happy with the variety I am playing [with]. Lots of shots. I am enjoying every single second out there. Carlos Alcaraz
The 19-year-old world No.1 dominated Dusan Lajovic in the opening set but did find himself in trouble in the second when poised to take the second round match at 5-4 only for the Serbian to take advantage of a poor service game and level at 5-5 and force the Spaniard into a tie-break.
Even there, Alcaraz took early control to go 6-2 only to be pulled back by Lajovic who saved three match points before conceding the 91-minute encounter following a big backhand winner from the top seed who struck 27 winners during the contest.
“Everything was under control or I thought it was but, you know, in the match it’s never easy,” Alcaraz admitted folowing his victory over his 32-year-old opponent.
“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.”
Despite that hiccup, Alcaraz remains in confidence mood having produced some excellent tennis to reach round four to not only remain on track for his second Mimi title, but also claim the ‘Sunshine Double’ having won the Indian Wells crown the previous Sunday.
“I feel fast on court, I am moving well,” Alcaraz, who has improved his record to 16-1 for the season, added. “I am happy with the variety I am playing [with]. Lots of shots. I am enjoying every single second out there.”
But his next opponent could well prove a stumbling block for Tommy Paul goes into their last-16 encounter full of confidence having defeated the likes of Rafa Nadal and even Alcaraz last year and on Sunday, added another Spaniard to his list of Iberian victims, namely, Alexander Davidovich Fokina, the 20th seed, 6-3 7-5.
“I lost the first and only match that I played against Tommy,” Alcaraz recollected of the American, who this year reached the last four at the Australian Open. “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.”
In addition Alcaraz has yet to come to terms with his new-found celebrity status.
“I feel great seeing celebrities watching my matches. It’s unbelievable,” he admitted. “I feel a little bit nervous when I see a person like Jimmy (Butler, Miami Heat NBA star who was seated in the stands) and the celebrities when I was playing in the US Open.
“In a certain way, I can’t believe that these people enjoy watching my matches. For me, it’s crazy,” he said.
A possible quarter-final match-up for the teenager is the American No.1 Taylor Fritz, who also rolled into the last 16 with a comfortable 6-4 6-4 win over Canadian Denis Shapovalov.
Fritz lost only 6 points on his first serve and never faced a break point, making his breaks at 4-3 in the first and 2-1 in the second only to admit he wasn’t fully in control in the 80-minute encounter!
“I couldn’t really find that attacking formula because he was hitting the ball so hard and he was hitting his second serve so big,” Fritz revealed. “It turned more into making balls and being steady. Because when he was putting balls in the court, I couldn’t attack much off that.
“I felt like I just protected my serve well. I didn’t give him a lot of free points, served well, so I didn’t face any break points,” Fritz said after reaching the fourth round for the fourth consecutive year.
“I was just able to capitalize on the one break that I got in both sets. That really, that was the difference,” he admitted.
In the fourth round, the American will be up against 19-year-old Dane Holger Rune, seeded seven, in who beat Argentina’s Daniel Schwartzman, the 31st seed, 6-4 6-2.
Rune converted all four break points he earned in the hot afternoon sun as he continued to establish himself at the top levels of the game.
“My focus was really to step in every time I could and play my game. I think there were a few rallies where I didn’t, but 95 per cent of the match was played on my terms, which was what I wanted,” he said.
Also on Sunday, the sixth seeded Russian Andrey Rublev dominated the. 29th seed Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia 6-1 6-2 while 10th-seed and former runner-up Jannik Sinner of Italy got by the 21st-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov 6-3 6-4.and Emil Ruusuvuori of Finland beat Japan’s Taro Daniel 6-3 7-6(3).
In the late match Norway’s Casper Ruud, continues his struggle for the form which took him to last year’s final as he fell to Dutchman Botic Van De Zandschulp 3-6 6-4 6-4.
Meanwhile Daniil Medvedev, the fourth seeded Russian, has been handed a walkover into the last-16 by Alex Molcan of Slovakia who has picked up an injury in his right hip..