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Indian Wells Open takeaways — and Miami Open storylines



Indian Wells Open takeaways -- and Miami Open storylines
Google News Recentlyheard

Google News Recentlyheard

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — Iga Swiatek and Carlos Alcaraz are each halfway to reaching the 2024 Sunshine Double.

On Sunday, in entrance of a star-studded crowd that included Zendaya, Tom Holland and Charlize Theron, Swiatek defeated Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-0 in merely 68 minutes to say her second Indian Wells title. Shortly after, Alcaraz effectively defended his Indian Wells crown with a comeback victory over Daniil Medvedev 7-6 (5), 6-1, for his first title since profitable Wimbledon in July.

It was a robust displaying inside the California desert for every avid gamers, who proceed to be two of the brightest youthful superstars inside the sport.

Swiatek, 22, leads the WTA Tour with a 20-2 doc on the season, and misplaced merely 21 complete video video games all through her six matches at Indian Wells. The win furthered her keep on the world No. 1 ranking. And since she was unable to play in Miami last yr due to a rib hurt, she has no elements to defend in Miami, and may seemingly solely lengthen that lead additional over the next two weeks. Swiatek gained the Sunshine Double in 2022 — and seems higher than in a position to repeating the feat.

Alcaraz, 20, had a troublesome start to his season, shedding inside the quarterfinals on the Australian Open after which struggling an ankle hurt in Rio last month. Nonetheless after falling proper right into a 3-0 deficit in opposition to Medvedev on Sunday, Alcaraz fought once more and have develop into the first man to defend his title in Indian Wells since Novak Djokovic in 2016. Alcaraz stays world No. 2 and brings a model new surge of momentum with him to Miami, the place he reached the semifinals in 2023.

The 1000-level Miami Open will get underway on Tuesday at Arduous Rock Stadium — home of the Miami Dolphins — with 96 avid gamers in each of the singles attracts and 32 doubles teams. Petra Kvitova, who’s pregnant and sidelined from rivals, and Medvedev are the defending champions. The occasion began on a tragic phrase on account of demise of Aryna Sabalenka’s boyfriend, Konstantin Koltsov, on Monday. Sabalenka continues to be anticipated to play.

Here’s what we realized from Indian Wells — and what all of it means for Miami.

Once more to the drawing board for Djokovic

There was a complete lot of consideration on Djokovic stepping into Indian Wells. He was having fun with there for the first time in 5 years, and in his first occasion since shedding to Jannik Sinner inside the Australian Open semifinals. Whereas Djokovic appeared to have some gratifying whereas on web site, and at a plenty of Los Angeles Lakers video video games, it’s safe to say the journey didn’t exactly reside as a lot as his, or anyone’s, expectations.

The 24-time essential champion — and five-time victor at Indian Wells — misplaced inside the third spherical 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to Luca Nardi, a 20-year-old lucky loser. Nardi, ranked No. 123 on the earth, turned the lowest-ranked participant to ever beat Djokovic at a Masters 1000-level event.

Djokovic praised Nardi after the match, however moreover criticized his private “really, really harmful” diploma of play and appeared significantly shocked by the outcomes of his season to this point.

“I’ll have executed all of the items utterly completely different,” Djokovic suggested reporters after the loss. “I suggest, as I acknowledged, very poor effectivity from my side. Yeah, no titles this yr. That’s not one factor I’m used to. I was starting the season most of my occupation with a Grand Slam win or, you already know, Dubai win, or any or occasion.

“It’s efficient. You perceive, it is part of the sport. You merely have to only settle for it. Some you win; some you lose. Hopefully I’m going to win some additional and nonetheless keep going. I assume every trophy that lastly comes my method goes to be good (smiling), clearly to interrupt the kind of damaging cycle a little bit of bit I’m having inside the last three, 4 tournaments the place I’ve by no means really been close to my best.”

Djokovic was uncertain on the time if he would play Miami and acknowledged he needed just some days to think about it as he was nonetheless “hot-headed” following the defeat. In the long run he decided to withdraw, citing a need to steadiness his “personal {{and professional}} schedule.” He’ll now have plenty of weeks to rearrange for the upcoming clay season and his French Open safety mission. Perhaps the model new flooring will possible be what’s going to get his season once more on observe.

Rafael Nadal, who had been slated to make his return to rivals at Indian Wells sooner than withdrawing, may additionally miss Miami. Like Djokovic, he is anticipated to return for the clay season.

Establishing momentum

Medvedev arrives in Miami as a result of the defending champion, nevertheless he has misplaced his last 5 finals, along with on Sunday at Indian Wells. Nonetheless, he suggested reporters he was joyful collectively together with his effectivity all by means of the occasion and was optimistic about his recreation.

“I’m really, really happy with [these] two weeks,” Medvedev acknowledged. “For the time being, the very very first thing I requested myself inside the locker room — not myself, my coach — I was like, ‘I do probably not really feel I’ve any regrets. Do you’ve got any regrets?’ He acknowledged, ‘Yeah, we’ll discuss one shot proper right here and there, nevertheless usually the match was not harmful. He’s having fun with good.'”

Medvedev misplaced to Alcaraz inside the 2023 Indian Wells remaining, and he then went on to win in Miami, so he ought to be hoping historic previous repeats itself.

Sakkari, the alternative finalist from the weekend, will possible be searching for to assemble off of her best outcomes of the season. After splitting collectively together with her longtime coach and (rapidly) falling out of the very best 10 earlier this yr, Sakkari joined forces with David Witt, the earlier coach of Venus Williams and Jessica Pegula, and reached the last word of their first occasion collectively. Sakkari acknowledged she was “already keen about Miami” all through her postmatch info conference on Sunday.

“You under no circumstances want to lose and depart the occasion as a loser, nevertheless on the same time, there are so many good points that occurred the ultimate two weeks that I can not merely ignore,” Sakkari acknowledged.

Sakkari, who’s now ranked No. 9, reached the semifinals in Miami in 2021 nevertheless has misplaced inside the second spherical in every of her appearances since.

The comeback kids

Indian Wells proved to be a robust occasion for many the game’s not too way back returned large names. Former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who bought right here once more in August after higher than three years away and after giving begin to 2 children, had among the finest outcomes of her comeback by reaching the quarterfinals. She wanted to retire from her match in opposition to Swiatek 6-4, 1-0 due to a toe hurt, however it nonetheless proved to be a worthwhile event and her ranking rose from No. 204 to No. 129.

Three-time essential champion Angelique Kerber, who returned from maternity depart at first of the season, moreover recorded her strongest displaying to this point with a go to to the Spherical of 16. She misplaced to Wozniacki, nevertheless her ranking moreover rose dramatically from No. 607 to No. 342. Fellow new mom Naomi Osaka, the four-time essential winner who moreover bought right here once more in January, reached the third spherical.

Wozniacki, Kerber and Osaka will all be once more in movement this week in Miami and searching for to assemble on their present momentum.

Nonetheless they won’t be the one avid gamers on the comeback path in South Florida. Simona Halep, the 2018 French Open and 2019 Wimbledon champion, makes her eagerly awaited return as a wild card following the low cost of her doping suspension earlier this month. Halep, 32, has not competed as a result of the 2022 US Open and may sort out Paula Badosa inside the opening spherical.

Halep, who’s a two-time semifinalist in Miami, posted apply footage from the occasion last week on her Instagram story and wrote merely: “Seems like I under no circumstances left.”

Will that feeling keep all through her first match in 18 months? Preserve tuned.

Former world No. 4 and 2014 US Open finalist Kei Nishikori might be slated to make his return this week as a wild card. The 34-year-old has carried out sparingly over the earlier two seasons due to hip surgical process and accidents, and last carried out on the Atlanta Open in July.

It has been a monumental yr for 22-year-old American Emma Navarro. The 2021 NCAA singles champion gained her first WTA title in Hobart to open the season, reached the third spherical at a major for the first time on the Australian Open, then superior to her first 1000-level quarterfinals at Indian Wells behind upset victories over Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka.

Navarro misplaced to Sakkari in three models, nevertheless is now ranked a model new career-high of No. 2 and is the fourth-ranked American lady — and her Indian Wells run made pretty the impression.

“Little query she’s going to be on excessive for a while,” Sabalenka acknowledged after their match. “Her potential is totally good. I consider she’s already inside the excessive. Yeah, I consider she have the potential to be in [the] excessive 10.”

With a first-round bye, Navarro will open her Miami Open in opposition to Martina Trevisan or a qualifier and may look to proceed her star-making 2024.

Completely different Individuals to watch

There are quite a few tennis avid gamers who reside and put together in Florida, nevertheless possibly no one will get a good greater reception from the gang on the Miami Open than Delray Seashore native Coco Gauff. The 2023 US Open champion reached the semifinals at Indian Wells for the first time last week — and celebrated her twentieth birthday on the occasion — and can possible be searching for to win her second title of 2024. Gauff, the world No. 3, will play each American Ashlyn Krueger or a qualifier in her opening match.

Gauff and Pegula are the defending doubles champions, and may try and repeat for his or her first title collectively of the season.

Tommy Paul reached the semifinals inside the desert for the first time, and recorded assertion wins over Casper Ruud and Ugo Humbert. Now ranked No. 14, Paul is the second-highest ranked American man, behind solely Taylor Fritz. Paul will look to stake his declare for the very best spot in Miami, along with win his first Masters 1000-level title. The 26-year-old, who’s initially from New Jersey nevertheless lives in Boca Raton, opens performs in opposition to Zhizhen Zhang or Martin Damm

And, in any case, there’s Venus Williams, 43, who obtained a wild card to play. Williams made her season debut at Indian Wells, the place she misplaced to Nao Hibino 2-6, 6-3, 6-0. Williams is a three-time champion in Miami and is having fun with the event for the first time since 2021. Presently ranked No. 457 and having carried out a restricted schedule in current instances, Williams — who has spent the earlier plenty of a very long time residing in South Florida — will sort out Diana Shnaider inside the first spherical.