Top seeds Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek on Saturday raced into the third round of the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells without wasting a minute.
Spain’s second-ranked Alcaraz, the US Open champion who can return to No. 1 in the world with a third Masters 1000 crown, needed just 1 hour, 16 minutes to get past Australian qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-3, 6-3.
Women’s No. 1 Swiatek, winner of the French and US opens last year, was even more ruthlessly efficient in a 6-0, 6-1 triumph over the US’ Claire Liu.
Alcaraz lost just one point on his serve in the first set, and did not face a break point in the match as he lined up a meeting with Tallon Griekspoor, who beat Argentina’s Guido Pella 7-6 (7/3), 7-6 (7/4).
“Well, I surprised myself today with my serve,” the 19-year-old said. “I serve really well in the first set and in the second set as well.”
Early breaks in each set were too much for Kokkinakis to overcome in the face of Alcaraz’s speed and power.
“All that I’m looking for in every match is to enjoy and to play relaxed,” Alcaraz said. “I think that’s the most important part of my game, to stay relaxed and go for it, and not to think about the mistakes, the points, the rounds.
“Just live the moment, play the match and go for it,” he added.
Alcaraz was able to do just that as there was no sign of the right hamstring injury that forced him out of the ATP tournament in Acapulco prior to Indian Wells.
He had missed the Australian Open with similar trouble, but returned to win in Buenos Aires last month before falling in the final at Rio de Janeiro, where he was hindered by the injury.
“It seems today that I move really well,” Alcaraz said. “I think I’m ready and totally recovered from the injury.”
In the women’s singles, Swiatek needed just 65 minutes to dispatch Liu as she launched her bid to become just the second woman — after Martina Navratilova in 1990 and 1991 — to win back-to-back Indian Wells titles.
Neither Liu nor the breezy conditions on Stadium Court troubled Swiatek, who won 25 of 32 first-set points.
Liu did manage to save a match point as she finally held serve in the penultimate game, slipping a forehand passing shot under Swiatek’s guard on game point.
It brought a relieved smile to the American’s face, but Swiatek closed it out in the next game.
“For sure Claire used that moment when I didn’t play as aggressive that I should be, but I’m pretty happy that I was able to close it out pretty fast,” Swiatek said.
She can expect a tougher challenge when she faces 2019 Indian Wells and US Open winner Bianca Andreescu, who defeated American Peyton Stearns 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.
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