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By Richard Pagliaro | Sunday, March 26, 2023


World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz defeated Dusan Lajovic 6-0, 7-6(5) to score his eighth straight win and advance to the Miami Open round of 16.

Photo credit: Matthew Calvis

Streaking across the court, Carlos Alcaraz turned Hard Rock Stadium into a hothouse of shotmaking electricity.

World No. 1 Alcaraz explored the entire shot spectrum, calmed his nerve after failing to serve out the match and quieted a late Dusan Lajovic uprising, 6-0, 7-6(5) to roar into the Miami Open round of 16.

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The 19-year-old Spanish superstar raised his 2023 record to 16-1 on the season.

Defending champion Alcaraz scored his eighth straight win to set up a round of 16 clash against American Tommy Paul.

Earlier, Paul dispatched Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-3, 7-5. 

Australian Open semifinalist Paul knows all about Alcaraz. 

Last August, Paul stood tall saving match point to stun the second-seeded Alcaraz, 6-7(4), 7-6(7), 6-3 in a riveting Toronto match.

"I watch a lot of matches from him. I enjoy watching him, as I said before," Alcaraz said. "He is really talented player. He makes everything easy. And, yeah, I like to watch these kind of players.

"I mean, he is doing everything well. He move well. He is fast. He hits great shots. Big forehand, big backhand. He's going to be really, really tough.

"As I said before, I like to play these kind of matches. I like to play battles, tough battles. So it's going to be a really tough one, and, of course, I'm going to enjoy."

Today, Alcaraz acted like a tennis tornado for the second straight match.

In his Miami opener, Alcaraz tore through eight consecutive games dismissing Facundo Bagnis.

Today, Alcaraz blitzed the veteran Lajovic, who took down Andy Murray in his opener,  blasting through the opening set with a flurry of heavy forehands. Alcaraz hit some running forehand strikes down the line that actually elicited gasps from some fans seated in our section.

Three games into the second set, Lajovic soared for a high backhand overhead making the toughest shot in tennis look smooth only to see Alcaraz, in a burst of speed, blast a forehand pass down the line.

At that point, Lajovic had seen enough. The Serbian veteran turned and belted a ball into the stands with so much force it bounced near section 253 a high view away from the court.

Though Lajovic looked down and out, credit the Serbian, who lost to Alcaraz twice on clay last month in Buenos Aires and Rio, for digging in and refusing to go away. 

Alcaraz, who was throwing in the serve-and-volley and some drop shots to stretch the court, raced out to a 4-2 second-set lead and had a break point for 5-2. Lajovic stood tall then broke back when the champion served for it at 5-4.

"When I was serving 5-4, yeah, I did a few mistakes that it changed the match," Alcaraz said. "Some backhand that I didn't miss in the whole match. So probably, yeah, the nerves came out, and probably that was the key, you know, to being, like, close match at the end.

"But I stay focused, even it was close. I stayed on my game. I stay focused. I stay concentrated. And that was the key. But I missed the break point in the 4-2 as well. I didn't take that chance. When you don't take the chances at that level, it becomes tougher."

The tiebreaker was all Alcaraz. The US Open champion, who took a second-set tiebreaker from Lajovic at love in Rio, last month, accelerated through the tiebreaker to close in one hour, 33 minutes.

Alcaraz finished the breaker with a flashy winner and a fist bump for the Miami Heat's Jimmy Butler who sat courtside.

"I feel great, you know, to see, like, celebrities watching my matches," Alcaraz said. "It's unbelievable. You know, I feel a little bit nervous when I see a person like Jimmy, celebrities, when I was playing, like, in the US Open. For me it's unbelievable, you know."


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