Carlos Alcaraz: "It's going to be a great rivalry between me and Sinner" - UBITENNIS
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Carlos Alcaraz: “It’s going to be a great rivalry between me and Sinner”

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Carlos Alcaraz returns to South Florida to defend his title at the Miami Open. Alcaraz is aiming to remain at the top of the ATP Ranking and become the eighth player in history to win the Sunshine Double after winning his first Indian Wells title. 

Alcaraz withdrew from the Australian Open due to a harmstring injury he suffered in training. In his first tournament at the Golden Swing in South America Alcaraz won his seventh title at the Argentina Open in Buenos Aires, beating second seed Cameron Norrie. One week Alcaraz beat Chilean qualifier Nicolas Jarry at the Rio Open in Rio de Janeiro to reach back-to-back finals as defending champion, but he lost to Norrie in the final. 

At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells Alcaraz beat Tallon Griekspoor recording his 100th career match win. He has become the second fastest player to reach this milestone since John McEnroe. The Spanish player beat Felix Auger Aliassime in the quarter final and Jannik Sinner in the semifinal to reach the final. He clinched his eighth career title beating Danil Medvedev, becoming the first player to win the Masters 1000 tournament in the Californian desert without dropping a set since Roger Federer in 2017. 

Alcaraz will remain at the top of the ATP Ranking if he completes the “Sunshine Double”, because he is dropping the 1000 points he won in Miami last year. Novak Djokovic will return to world number 1 if Alcaraz does not win the Miami Open title. 

 “I don’t feel the pressure too much. I know the things I have to do. I need to play relaxed and not mind if I lose or I play well or not. My goal is always the same. To feel comfortable on court. To enjoy playing tennis and try to have great thoughts when playing. That is why I am playing at a good level. I am enjoying every single second and playing relaxed. That is what I am thinking about on court”, said Alcaraz. 

At last year’s edition of the Miami Open Alcaraz became the youngest men’s champion in tournament history. He beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the round of 16, Miomir Kecmanovic in the quarter final, Hubert Hurkacz in the semifinal and Casper Ruud in the final. 

“I have great supporters here. I remember last year was unbelievable feeling with the crowd. There are a lot of people who speak Spanish, so I feel at home. Playing great matches against great players, it was an amazing run last year. I am really excited to come here in front of all the fans. I can’t wait”, said Alcaraz. 

Alcaraz will start his campaign against either Facundo Bagnis or a qualifier before a potential clash against Andy Murray in the third round. 

Alcaraz has a seasonal record of 14 wins to just 1 defeat, but he is never satisfied as he is always trying to improve his game. 

“I always say you can improve everything a little bit more. You have to improve, you have to get better every day. That is why the big players, the “Big Three” for example, did throughout their careers, improving a bit every day”.  

Alcaraz beat Sinner 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 in their first match of the season in the Indian Wells semifinal last Saturday. The Spanish player now leads 3-2 in his five head-to-head matches against his Italian rival. 

Alcaraz beat Sinner 7-6 (7-1) 7-5 in their first head-to-head match in the Round of 32 of the Paris Bercy Rolex Masters. They clashed three times in 2022. Sinner beat Alcaraz twice in the fourth round at Wimbledon 6-1 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 6-3 and in the Croatian Open in Umag 6-7 (5-7) 6-1 6-1. 

In their most recent head-to-head battle Alcaraz beat Sinner in an epic five-set clash by the scoreline of 6-3 6-7 (7-9) 6-7 (0-7) 7-5 6-3 after five hours and 15 minutes.  

The rivalry between Alcaraz and Sinner has drawn comparison to that of the Big 3. The two young stars are pushing each other to be better players, just like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal did in the past seasons. 

“No matter who won, I think our previous matches have been great fun for the fans, and also for us. I am going to push myself to be a better player to beat him. I think it is going to be the same for him as well. I will push him to be a better player as Djokovic, Nadal and Federer did when they were younger. I think it’s going to be a great rivalry. We are great friends outside the court”, said Alcaraz. 

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Novak Djokovic celebrated his 37th birthday with a win over Yannick Hanfmann in Geneva

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Novak Djokovic beat unseeded player Yannik Hanfmann 6-3 6-3 on his 37th birthday to reach the quarter finals at the Geneva Open. Djokovic became just the third player in the Open Era to win 1100 tour-level matches. 

“That really touched me. I am really happy to win on this special day. The key was the birthday. The birthday probably would not be the same if I did not win the match, but it’s nice to be here for the first time at this tournament, with my family coming here to support as well”, said Djokovic. 

Djokovic earned three break points in the sixth game. The world number 1 player missed consecutive break points, but he converted his third chance with a forehand to take a 4-2 lead. 

Djokovic fended off two break points consolidating the break with a hold for 5-2. The Serbian player hit a forehand drop-shot winner to earn a set point. Hanfmann hit a drop-shot winner to force the game to deuce. Hanfmann earned a break point with a crosscourt winner. Djokovic saved it before earning another break point when Hanfman hit a backhand into the net. 

Djokovic sent a forehand down the line wide to face the fourth break point of the game and the sixth overall. Djokovic hit a backhand winner down the line to force the game to the deuce. Djokovic wasted a set point and had to fend off four break points before the match was interrupted by rain. 

After the match resumed, Djokovic saved a seventh break point and hit consecutive aces to serve out the first set. 

Hanfmann converted his 10th break point to open up a 2-0 lead in the second set. The German player held serve at love to open up a 3-0 lead. Djokovic broke back for 2-3 when Hanfmann sailed a drive. 

Djokovic won four consecutive games breaking serve when Hanfmann hit the net with a backhand. Djokovic sealed the win on his second match point, when Hanfmann hit his running forehand into the net. 

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Flavio Cobolli beats Ben Shelton to reach the quarter final in Geneva

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Flavio Cobolli came back from one set down to beat fourth seed Ben Shelton 4-6 7-6 (7-1) 6-2 at the Gonet Geneva Open. Cobolli has scored the second top 20 win of his career.

Shelton started the clay season with his second title in Houston and reached back-to-back third rounds in Madrid and Rome. The US player lost to Zhang Zhizhen in Rome. 

Cobolli reached his first Grand Slam third round at the Australian Open last January. During the clay season the Italian player he reached the third round in Madrid and pushed Sebastian Korda to third round in Rome. He beat Australian Open semifinalist Aslan Karatsev in straight sets to set up a second round match against Ben Shelton. 

Shelton earned the only break in the seventh game of the first set to serve it out after 38 minutes. The US player went up a set and a break in the third game and held on his serve to take a 4-2 lead. 

Shelton saved three break points at 4-3 in a marathon eighth game, but Cobolli converted his converted his fourth chance with a well-angled pass to draw level to 4-4. Cobolli rallied from 0-30 down to earn a set point. Shelton saved it with a big serve and held a long service game to force a tie-break. Cobolli earned three mini-breaks and dropped just one point to win the tie-break 7-1. 

Cobolli broke serve in the fourth game and saved two break points in the next game to consolidate. Cobolli broke for the second time in the seventh game after a double fault from Shelton. Cobolli hit an ace to bring up three match points. Shelton saved the first chance but Cobolli converted his second chance with another ace to set up a quarter final against Alexander Schevchenko., who reached the last eight, after Emil Ruusuvuori withdrew from the match due to illness. 

Cobolli scored his first top 20 win against Nicolas Jarry at this year’s Australian Open. 

“This year I have played against a lot of lefties. I like to play lefties and you saw today that I am really happy. It was a difficult match, but I am really happy”, said Cobolli. 

Yannik Hanfmann beat Andy Murray 7-5 6-2 in 1 hour and 43 minutes. Hanfmann was leading 7-5 4-1 before the match was interrupted by rain. Hanfmann did not face a break point. The German player broke serve in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5. He broke serve in the third and fifth games and served out the second set on his second match point. 

Hanfmann set up a second round match against world number 1 Novak Djokovic. Denis Shapovalov won 12 of 13 games from 1-4 down to beat Federico Coria. The Canadian player set up a second round match against Tallon Griekspoor, who beat Christophen Eubanks 6-4 1-6 6-3. 

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Alexander Zverev beats Alejandro Tabilo to reach the third final of his career in Rome

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Akexander Zverev came back from one set down to beat Alejandro Tabilo 1-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-2 reaching the third final of his career at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome and his first Masters 1000 final since 2022. 

Zverev reached his 11th career Masters 1000 final, equalling his compatriot Boris Becker for most Masters 1000 final appearances by a German man since the series started in 1990.

Tabilo earned a double break point with a forehand drop shot winner. The Chilean player forced an error with a topspin forehand into the corner to earn his first break in the fourth game for 3-1 after just 13 minutes. Tabilo saved two break points to consolidate the break for 4-1. Tabilo held three break points and hit a forehand return winner to break at love for 5-1. The Toronto-born Chilean player closed out the first set with drop-shot winners. He won 10 of the last 12 points of the first set. 

Zverev won his first service game of the second set to stop his losing streak. The German player held serve in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. 

Zverev double fault to face a break point. He saved it with a big serve and held serve for 4-3 in the seventh game. This year’s Auckland champion Tabilo held serve at love to force the second set to the tie-break. 

Tabilo earned the mini-break after Zverev made his fifth double fault at the start of the tie-break. Zverev pulled back on serve on the third point as Tabilo netted a backhand. Zverev went up a mini-break to take a 4-3 lead after one of the longest rallies of the match. Zverev converted his second set point to force the match the third set. 

Zverev earned three break points in the third game of the decider with a crosscourt backhand. Tabilo saved the first two break points, but Zverev converted his third break point to take a 2-1 lead, as Tabilo made a double fault. 

Zverev backed up the break with an ace to open up a 3-1 lead. Zverev earned a second break in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead and closed out the win with his 10th ace of the match after 2 hours and 17 minutes. 

Zverev will face either Tommy Paul or Nicholas Jarry in the final. The Olympic champion will rise to world number 4 if he wins the Rome Masters 1000 title. 

Tabilo upset Novak Djokovic 6-2 6-3 last Sunday and backed up this win with a 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (12-10) win over Karen Khachanov in the fourth round. 

“I did not play well, but he was the reason why I did not play well. He came out hitting the ball extremely hard. A lot of dropshots. He was playing extremely aggressive. He did not let me play. I have to give credit to him for not allowing me to play my game”, said Zverev. 

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