Wednesday, May 31, 2023
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Top seeds Alcaraz and Swiatek advance at Madrid Open

MADRID (AP) – Carlos Alcaraz (AP; pic below) made it easier on himself this time at the Madrid Open, reaching the round of 16 with a straight-set victory over Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday.

After struggling in a three-set win in his opener against unseeded Emil Ruusuvuori, Alcaraz improved to get past the 26th-seeded Dimitrov 6-2, 7-5 and stay on track to defend his title on home soil.

Alcaraz was still not at his best but sealed the victory by converting four of his six break opportunities against Dimitrov. The second-ranked Spaniard was broken only once, in the second set. He finished with 16 winners and four unforced errors.

“We didn’t do some things well in that first match and it was clear that we had to get back to doing what we know, which is to go on attack,” Alcaraz said.

It was the 17th straight win for the 19-year-old Alcaraz on home soil. He won the Barcelona Open for a second consecutive year earlier this month. He next faces 13th-seeded Alexander Zverev in a rematch of last year’s final in the Spanish capital.

Iga Swiatek. PHOTO: AFP

“I have great memories from last year in the final but obviously I have to be really focussed in that match,” Alcaraz said.

“I know that Sascha is a really good player, a really aggressive one with good serves. I have to show all my skills.”

Iga Swiatek continued to cruise in the women’s draw, reaching the round of 16 with a comfortable 6-3, 6-2 win over Bernarda Pera.

The world number one conceded only one break point and converted four of the 13 that she earned against the 32nd ranked American.

Swiatek had beaten Julia Grabher by the same score in her opening match in Madrid.

The Polish player has won six straight matches in her clay-court season while dropping only one set. “I wouldn’t say it was easy,” Swiatek said. “Every match is tricky here. I’m happy that I’m getting my rhythm.

“Playing against a lefty is never easy… but I’m pretty happy that I was disciplined and focussed,” she added.

Swiatek has lost only five games in each of her first two matches this week, dropping serve only once in each match.

Swiatek will next play 16th-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova, who came from behind to defeat 22nd-seeded Zheng Qinwen 5-7, 6-4, 6-2.

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