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Teenage tennis sensation Carlos Alcaraz passes Djokovic to return to No. 1 for Miami Open

Teenage sensation Carlos Alcaraz, the 19-year-old tennis superstar from Spain, regained the world’s No. 1 ranking from Novak Djokovic on Monday after trouncing Daniil Medvedev on Sunday night at Indian Wells, and is set to play his opening match on Friday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Alcaraz, the 2022 Miami Open champion, must win the tournament again in 2023 to stay ahead of No. 2 Djokovic, who was barred from entering the country, and thus the Miami Open, due to U.S. COVID vaccination border restrictions. But Alcaraz’s 1-hour, 11-minute, 6-3, 6-2 domination of fifth-ranked Medvedev, the Miami Open’s No. 4 seed, assured that the Miami Open will have both the men’s and women’s defending champions returning as top-ranked players.

Alcaraz, who will learn his opponent Wednesday, is one of three past Miami Open champions in the top quarter of the draw. He could face two-time tournament champion Andy Murray in the third round and would have a potential quarterfinal against 2018 winner John Isner. No. 3 seed Casper Ruud of Norway, who fell to Alcaraz in last year’s final, could meet Alcaraz in a semifinal.

If Alcaraz wins at Miami, he will have spent more time as the top-ranked player than former No. 1s Yevgeny Kafelnikov, Thomas Muster, Marcelos Rios, Carlos Moya and Patrick Rafter combined (21 weeks). Alcaraz won every set at Indian Wells, the first time that has been done since Roger Federer in 2017, and is now 14-1 in 2023.

“It feels amazing to lift the trophy here, to recover the No. 1,” Alcaraz said after Sunday’s victory. “I would say this has been the perfect tournament.”

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek of Poland was upset by Elena Rybakina in an Indian Wells semifinal on Friday. After the match, Swiatek, the defending French Open and U.S. Open champion, said she had a rib injury and was “not feeling 100 percent physically.’’ As of Monday there was no update on Swiatek, who is due to play her first Miami match Thursday. Rybakina went on to upset No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the Sunday final.

The Miami Open women’s main draw begins Tuesday, a day-only session, and will have four players in action who already have won a WTA title this year. They are Alycia Parks (U.S.), 22, who won her first WTA title in Lyon, France; Lauren Davis (U.S.), 29, who won in Hobart, Australia; Camila Giorgi (Italy), 31, who won at Merida, Mexico; and Marta Kostyuk (Ukraine), 20, who won her first WTA title in Austin, Texas.

Tuesday also will serve as the final round of men’s qualifying.

NCAA champs

Two former NCAA women’s tennis champions — Emma Navarro (University of Virginia) in 2021 and Peyton Stearns (Texas) in 2022 — competed in qualifying matches Monday. Navarro fell to Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia 5-7, 6-2, 1-6. Stearns played in a later match.

Coco Gauff, currently ranked no. 6 in the world, practices during a day of qualifying matches at the Miami Open on Monday, March 20, 2023, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.
Coco Gauff, currently ranked no. 6 in the world, practices during a day of qualifying matches at the Miami Open on Monday, March 20, 2023, at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens.

Miami Open Unites

The Miami Open had its annual day of service — Miami Open Unites — on Monday. It included several projects around Miami-Dade County, including a tennis clinic, replanting a community garden, feeding the homeless, bathing dogs, repairing homes and participating in a youth tennis clinic.

Parks, one of the main-draw players Tuesday, participated in a First Serve Miami tennis clinic for children in the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program at Moore Park. Accompanying her were Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Kudia, Madison Keys and Miami Open tournament director James Blake.

Alex de Minaur, Diego Schwartzman, Caroline Garcia, Karolina Pliskova assisted in painting the exterior of a veteran’s home.

Stefanos Tsitsipas, Holger Rune, Jelena Ostepenko and Marie Bouzkova helped weed and plant in an urban garden.

And Murray, Jannik Sinner, Sebastian Korda, Paula Badosa and Magda Linette served meals to the homeless for the Miami Rescue Mission.

Fans are encouraged to watch players practice at various courts throughout the tournament. Top tournament players, such as World No. 6 Coco Gauff from Delray Beach, practiced Monday on Stadium Court.

For ticket information and late results, go to www.miamiopen.com.