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“The nerves came out” – Alcaraz overcomes Lajovic, advances to last 16 in Miami

Carlos Alcaraz won against Dusan Lajovic 6-0, 7-6 (5) on Sunday evening. He’ll face American Tommy Paul, the No 16 seed, in the next round

Carlos Alcaraz 2023 Miami Open | AI / Reuters / Panoramic Carlos Alcaraz 2023 Miami Open | AI / Reuters / Panoramic
Miami Open presented by Itau •Third round • completed
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Carlos Alcaraz continues to run hot in the Florida heat. The defending Miami Open champion ran his current winning streak to eight on Sunday afternoon with a 6-0, 7-6 (5) over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic to advance to the last 16 of the Miami Open for the second consecutive year.

No.1-seeded and No.1-ranked Alcaraz will play American Tommy Paul, the No 16 seed, next. Paul won the pair’s last meeting in three sets in Montreal last summer.

Trouble down the stretch, but not much

Alcaraz was off to a blazing start, ripping plenty of jaw-dropping forehand winners as he reeled off all six games of the opening set, and the 19-year-old continued that momentum in the second set, quickly moving ahead by a break of serve. But when it came time to close Alcaraz lost the plot for a moment.

Lajovic broke the Spaniard’s serve for 5-5 and held to take a 6-5 lead.

Alcaraz – “The nerves came out”

The teenager may be the hottest and most confident player in Miami, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be tricky moments. In an interview with Tennis Channel he said that he had a few moments of doubt, but never fully lost his way.

“Everything was under control, or I thought it was, but no, at the end of a match is never easy,” he said. “The nerves came out. I made a few mistakes that I didn’t do during the whole match, so it was tough to turn the match around.

“But I am happy with the level that I’m playing and it was a good match.”

Asked what he tells himself when he is under pressure in difficult moments, Alcaraz said: “Go for it – don’t have fear to have mistakes or to lose.”

Alcaraz answered the bell and took care of business, holding serve to force a tiebreak and then converting his fourth match point to close out the victory in one hour and 31 minutes. His backhand was the driving shot down the stretch, another example of a player with a vast arsenal that can win in so many ways.

What’s working best in 2023? Movement

In his post-match interview with ATP Media, Alcaraz was asked which element of his game has been most pleasing to him since he returned from injury last month. He didn’t hesitate to answer.

“I would say the movement, I feel fast on court, I move well,  I move with no thinking about the injury before, that’s for me the most important pint for me and the the part that I’m enjoying a lot,” he said, adding: “Of course, also with the variety that I’m playing, a lot of shots, honestly as I said before, I’m enjoying every single second out there.”

In the previous round of the Miami Open, the 19-year-old Spaniard beat Argentinian Facundo Bagnis (6-0, 6-2).

Lajovic, ranked No 76, won against Andy Murray (6-4, 7-5) and American Maxime Cressy, the No 30 seed (6-4, 7-6 (2)) earlier in the tournament.

Miami Masters, other third-round results (Hard Rock Stadium, hard, USD 8.800.000, most recent results first):

  • Alex Molcan vs. Daniil Medvedev
  • Christopher Eubanks vs. Gregoire Barrere
  • Hubert Hurkacz vs. Adrian Mannarino
  • Lorenzo Sonego vs. Frances Tiafoe
  • Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Francisco Cerundolo
  • Quentin Halys vs. Mackenzie McDonald
  • Cristian Garin vs. Stefanos Tsitsipas
  • Karen Khachanov vs. Jiri Lehecka
  • Casper Ruud vs. Botic van de Zandschulp
  • Jannik Sinner vs. Grigor Dimitrov
  • Emil Ruusuvuori beat Taro Daniel (WC): 6-3, 7-6 (3)
  • Andrey Rublev (6) beat Miomir Kecmanovic (29): 6-1, 6-2
  • Taylor Fritz (9) beat Denis Shapovalov (24): 6-4, 6-4
  • Holger Rune (7) beat Diego Schwartzman (31): 6-4, 6-2
  • Tommy Paul beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (20): 6-3, 7-5

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