MIAMI HARDENS, Fla. ( Associated Press) — Carlos Alcaraz enjoyed a straight victory Friday as he began his title defense at the Miami Open and maintained his position in the world ranking without Novak Djokovic.
The Serbian star was unable to attend Miami because it is still not possible for a tourist to travel to the United States who has not been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Alcaraz, who won last year to advance to the top tier, held off Argentine Facundo Bagnis 6-0, 6-2 for third place in the tournament at the Hard Rock Stadium.
The 19-year-old Spanish teenager returned to the top of the ATP rankings after winning the Indian Wells Open title last weekend, another Masters 1000 series tournament in the United States Djokovic could not play due to his vaccination status.
“I had a few days to rest a little bit,” Alcaraz said of landing in South Florida after capturing the title in the California desert. “It was a perfect start. I feel ready.”
Alcaraz must defend his title in Miami to avoid Djokovic in the next round.
Alcaraz’s rival for the title will be Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, who beat American Maxime Cressy 6-4, 7-6.
Also on Friday, Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman posted a 7-6 (1), 6-1 victory over China’s Yibing Wu. It was just the third win for the 38-ranked player in 10 games this year.
“I played very well, I’m getting my confidence back,” said Schwartzman, who will meet seventh seed Holger Rune in the next round. The Dane won his match with 6-3, 7-5 Hungarian Marton Fucsovics.
On behalf of Argentina, Guido Pella said goodbye, losing 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to Canadian Denis Shapovalov (24th seed).
Others who progressed on the day were Casper Ruud (3), Andrey Rublev (6), Taylor Fritz (9) and Jannik Sinner (10).
On the women’s side, Bianca Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion, rallied from a set down to defeat Greece’s 7th-seed Maria Sakkari 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
It was the second in a winning streak in three goals for Canada Andreescu improved to 2-1 over Sakkari, with both victories coming in Miami. Andreescu in the third face of the American Sophia Kenin in the circuit.
After losing the Indian Wells final, Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (2nd) made her debut in Miami by beating American Shelby Rogers 6-4, 6-3.
French Caroline Garcia (5th seed) lost to Romanian Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3. Cirstea was defeated by Garcia 10 days ago in the fourth round in Indian Wells, and will now play Czech Karolina Muchova.
In addition, Varvara Gracheva surprised the Russians by beating Tunisians Jabeur (4th seed) 6-2, 6-2.