Europe 1 with AFP 22:55 p.m., March 21, 2023Back on the tennis courts, Spain's Carlos Alcaraz will try to achieve a double blow after his recent victory in Indian Wells. A victory that allowed him to regain his place as world number 1 in the ATP rankings.
Defending champion and just winner of the Indian Wells Masters 1000 where he became world number 1 again, Carlos Alcaraz will try in Miami (March 22-April 2) to achieve a rare "Double in the sun" as is nicknamed the American spring sequence. "Of course, winning one tournament (Indian Wells) brings a lot of confidence (to approach the next one). I'm playing very well (...) and I hope to play well at this level in Miami," said the Spaniard after his victory in the final in California against Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 6-2 in 70 minutes.
He will need a lot of confidence but also a very good tennis and physical level to win in Florida where, in the absence of Novak Djokovic still banned from the US for lack of vaccine against Covid-19, the pressure on his shoulders will be enormous. Because the stakes are high: only a title would allow him to keep his place at the top of the world hierarchy, while only a handful of players managed to win the first two Masters 1000 of the season in the same year.
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Fourth Masters 1000 before 20 years
Since the first, Jim Courier in 1991, they are a total of eleven, including four women, Steffi Graf twice, Kim Klijsters, Victoria Azarenka and Iga Swiatek last year, to have done so. The latest to do so on the men's side was Roger Federer, who scored his third double in 2017. The record for doubles is held by Djokovic, who has achieved it four times.
In addition, Alcaraz is only the second player in history, after Rafael Nadal, to win at least three Masters 1000s before his 20th birthday. Nadal, who this year forfeited the U.S. spring tour to prepare for the clay court season by aiming for a 15th Roland Garros, in what could be his final appearance, had won six. Alcaraz is aiming for his fourth in Miami with Monte-Carlo before celebrating his 20th birthday on May 5.
After entering the competition in the second round against the Argentine Facundo Bagnis or a player from the qualifiers, Alcaraz could find on his way Andy Murray, still difficult to beat at 35 years old, then Tommy Paul, one of the Americans in form at the beginning of the year. Taylor Fritz or Holger Rune could then stand before another highly anticipated duel against Jannik Sinner in the semifinals, rematch of Indian Wells. At the bottom of the table, and on courts that he hopes will be faster than those in California, Medvedev will try to join Alcaraz for another final duel.
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Swiatek under pressure
On the women's side, the defending champion Swiatek will be much less sure of her fact than last year: eliminated in the eighth-finals at the Australian Open, beaten in the final in Dubai where she defended her title, the Polish was swept by the future winner Elena Rybakina in the semis at Indian Wells. The world No. 1 then said she had "discomfort in the ribs". Will she be back in Florida to resume her march forward or will she let her main competitors, especially Rybakina (7th) and Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (2nd), winner of the Australian Open and finalist in Indian Wells, accentuate their threat to the world throne?
In any case, the title will be worth a lot since the entire women's top 20 in the world is at the rendezvous, including former winners Azarenka (2009, 2011, 2016) and Sloane Stephens (2018), as well as finalists Bianca Andreescu (2021), who will be opposed in the first round to Emma Raducanu, Karolina Pliskova (2019) and Jelena Ostapenko (2018). Not to mention Caroline Garcia (4th) who is struggling to confirm her very good 2022 season, ended with a victory at the Masters at the end of the year, but who is nevertheless a candidate for the title.