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Men's Round Of 16: Sinner Remains Unbeaten, Alcaraz Shows Peak Form
3 Min Read · March 12, 2024

Tuesday’s opening set between Jannik Sinner and Ben Shelton at the BNP Paribas Open sure did live up to the hype. But once Sinner won it, the Italian never looked back and increased his winning streak to 18 matches. On a chilly, slightly windy evening in the desert, Sinner prevailed 7-6 (4), 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals.


The first two points on Stadium 1 foreshadowed what was to come. Shelton ripped a 134 mph serve to start, with Sinner then producing a sizzling return on the second point.

Later in the set, the reigning Australian Open champion fended off four break points before being broken for the first time all tournament at 5-4. Surging after saving three straight break points in the next game, Shelton crunched a 149 mph serve. The gasps came, understandably. It didn’t land in, but showed the adrenaline flowing through Shelton’s 6-foot-4 frame. Sinner saw a 4-1 lead in the tiebreak evaporate, though claimed the next three points to seal the 69-minute set.

Getting so close but falling short in the first took a toll on Shelton and the second set lasted just 30 minutes. The Atlanta native, though, shouldn’t feel too bad. Sinner is beating anyone and everyone these days.

Sinner improved to 2-1 against Shelton but with their respective ages being 22 and 21, this has the makings of a captivating, lengthy rivalry. The next player attempting to beat Sinner is Jiri Lehecka

Impeccable Alcaraz Turns Tables on Marozsan

Early in the second set of Carlos Alcaraz’s 6-3, 6-3 win over Fabian Marozsan in the Round of 16 at the BNP Paribas Open, the big screen on Stadium 1 flashed to an onlooking Rod Laver. Bang on cue, Elton John’s “Rocket Man” blared, a nod to the Australian legend’s nickname.

But “rocket” could have also referred to more than a few of Alcaraz’s forehands against his Hungarian opponent Marozsan. The forehand and virtually all of the Spaniard’s all-around game worked against the Hungarian who beat him last year at another Masters event in Rome.

The duo began on level terms before the defending champion broke in the seventh game. Two Alcaraz forehands with heat and close to the baseline forced errors. Marozsan managed to save the first two break points in the game but the two-time Grand Slam champion injected pace on another forehand for 4-3. A backhand passing shot sealed a second break — and the set.

When Alcaraz broke for 4-2 in the second set, a similar scenario unfolded. The World No. 58 Marozsan saved two break points, only for Alcaraz to capitalize on his third chance with a breathtaking forehand passing shot.

Alcaraz saved the lone two break points he encountered in the ensuing game. Then at deuce, in one of the points of the match, the pair took to exchanging backhand slices.

Alcaraz changed direction on the last one, giving him space to hit a forehand down the line. He crushed it to leave Marozsan — who certainly didn’t play poorly — in disbelief.

Alcaraz clinched the affair with a 12th forehand winner and Marozsan’s reaction as he walked to the net to shake hands said it all. He offered up a smile that seemed to suggest, “too good.” Alcaraz moved one step closer to reaching a first final since last August.

“My confidence is getting higher,” said Alcaraz.

Alcaraz next tangles with Alexander Zverev, who handed him a four-set loss in the Australian Open quarterfinals. Zverev rallied to beat Alex de Minaur 5-7, 6-2, 6-3, improving to 7-2 versus the lightning-quick Australian.

Carlos Alcaraz is one step closer to defending his title in Tennis Paradise.

Jiri Lehecka Blasts Past Tsitsipas

On Stadium 2, Jiri Lehecka blasted past Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4 to reach his first Masters quarterfinal.

Speaking of firsts, it was also the Czech’s first win over the two-time Grand Slam finalist in three attempts. The No. 32 seed — with former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych looking on from his player box — took it to the Greek. While they both made 22 unforced errors, Lehecka hit 25 winners to Tsitsipas’ eight.

His balls zipped through the thin desert air, like Berdych in his playing days, often giving his foe little time to react.

Since losing the first set of his tournament to San Diego’s Brandon Nakashima, Lehecka has won six straight. After winning 93 percent of points behind his first serve against Andrey Rublev in the third round — when he snapped an eight-match losing streak against Top 10 opposition — Lehecka’s tally only marginally fell against Tsitsipas (84 percent). Next up for the Czech is a meeting with Sinner.

Jiri Lehecka is into his first-ever Masters 1000 quarterfinal.
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