Returning as defending champion at an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time, Carlos Alcaraz picked up where he left off at the Miami Open presented by Itau on Friday.
The Spaniard raced to a 6-0, 6-2 win against Facundo Bagnis in just 65 minutes in Florida. Alcaraz, who needs to lift the trophy in Miami to prevent Novak Djokovic from replacing him as No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, cruised to victory against an opponent who was chasing his maiden Top 10 victory and who never really settled into the second-round clash on Hard Rock Stadium.
“I knew that I needed to be focused for my first match,” said Alcaraz after his win. “To start a new tournament is never easy, [and in] 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.”
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 24, 2023
Now a three-time Masters 1000 winner after he lifted the BNP Paribas Open trophy in Indian Wells last Sunday, the 19-year-old Alcaraz will become the youngest man to win the coveted ‘Sunshine Double’ with another title run in Miami. Standing in his way next in Florida will be 30th seed Maxime Cressy or Dusan Lajovic.
Five days ago, Alcaraz delivered an imperious performance to snap Daniil Medvedev’s 19-match winning streak and lift his second title of the season in Indian Wells. The Spaniard did not need to reproduce his level from that match during his Miami opener, however. He lost just seven points in the first set as a wayward Bagnis made a nightmare start to his first Masters 1000 match for a year.
Alcaraz then quickly opened a 2-0 lead in the second set as his opponent continued to struggle against the teenager’s all-around abilities. Although Bagnis dug deep to convert his second break point of the match and level at 2-2, that was as good as it got for the Argentine. Alcaraz powered through the final four games to claim a comfortable win and extend his ATP Head2Head series lead against Bagnis to 2-0.
Alcaraz struck 12 winners and won 81 per cent (17/21) of points behind his first serve for his 15th tour-level win of the year. The Spaniard will expect a greater test in his next match against Cressy or Lajovic, but his outing against Bagnis could prove useful in helping him adapt to the different conditions in Miami compared to Indian Wells.
“The court is faster, there is more humidity,” acknowledged Alcaraz. “Let’s say it’s a little bit tougher too, to get used to the conditions in a short period of days. For me, it’s a totally different tournament.”