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Eyes On The Prize: 'Relaxed' Alcaraz Ready To Roll In Miami

Top seed returns as defending champion
March 21, 2023
Carlos Alcaraz will remain at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings if he completes the Sunshine Double in Miami.
Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
Carlos Alcaraz will remain at No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings if he completes the Sunshine Double in Miami. By ATP Staff

Last year, Carlos Alcaraz arrived at the Miami Open presented by Itau at No. 16 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. Twelve months on and the Spaniard is back in south Florida as the defending champion and World No. 1.

After triumphing in Indian Wells last week, all eyes will be on Alcaraz as he aims to remain in top spot and become the eighth player to win the Sunshine Double. With expectations high, the 19-year-old is taking everything in his stride.

“I don’t feel the pressure too much. I know the things I have to do,” said Alcaraz, who must win his fourth ATP Masters 1000 crown to hold onto No. 1, because he is dropping the 1000 points he won in Miami last year. “I need to play relaxed and not mind if I lose or if I play well or not.

“My goal is always the same. To feel comfortable on court. To enjoy playing tennis and try to have great thoughts when playing. And that is why I am playing at a good level. I am enjoying every single second and playing relaxed. That is what I am thinking about on court.”

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Alcaraz produced lights-out tennis throughout his run to the title in California, becoming the first Indian Wells champion to not drop a set since Roger Federer in 2017, and the first to do so in at least six matches since Rafael Nadal in 2007.

Holding a 14-1 record on the season and back at No. 1, Alcaraz is a dominant force on the ATP Tour. However, he isn’t satisfied with his level yet as he continues to seek improvements in his already well-rounded game.

“I always say that you can improve everything a little bit more,” Alcaraz said during his pre-tournament press conference. “You have to improve, you have to get better every day. That is why the big players, the ‘Big Three’ for example, did throughout their careers, improving a bit every day.”

Alcaraz arrives at the hard-court event in Miami with fond memories, having soared to the title last year. The Spaniard defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud en route to the trophy, receiving vocal crowd support throughout.

“I have great supporters here. I remember last year was unbelievable feeling with the crowd,” Alcaraz said. “There are a lot of people who speak Spanish, so I feel at home. Playing here, great matches and against great players, it was an amazing run last year. I am really excited to come here in front of all the fans. I can’t wait.”

The top seed will begin his title defence against Facundo Bagnis or a qualifier and could face two-time Miami champion and former World No. 1 Andy Murray in the third round. The second ATP Masters 1000 event of the season starts on Wednesday. Novak Djokovic will return to World No. 1 if Alcaraz does not win the Miami title.

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