Carlos Alcaraz continued his run of torrid tennis with a 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(5) quarter-final victory over Miomir Kecmanovic on Thursday evening as he made a winning debut in Hard Rock Stadium at the Miami Open presented by Itau.
“I think that I’m playing in Spain,” Alcaraz said of the crowd’s tremendous support. “It’s unbelievable. The energy that they push to me, it was crazy. I think without them it would not be possible to get into the semifinals today.”
Alcraz was two points from defeat at 4-5, 15/30, and again at 5/3 in the tie-break, where he twice trailed by a mini-break. But he was brave and bold at the crucial moments, winning the final four points of the match and sealing the deal in spectacular fashion with a pushed passing shot on the dead run. The 18-year-old dropped to his knees in celebration after moving within two victories of his first ATP Masters 1000 title.
“Miomir was playing unbelievable,” the Spaniard reflected after his first meeting with the Serb. “I knew that I had to put a good level from my side. He had chances to win the match. I did a great shot at 4-5 in the third set, 15/30,” he added, referencing a fearless down-the-line backhand winner that helped him dig out of that hole.
Alcaraz’s imprint on the match was highlighted by his 52/40 winners-to-unforced-errors count as he looked for every opportunity to attack. Kecmanovic, who did his best to keep his opponent on the back foot, registered a 19/16 mark.
Both men were competing in consecutive ATP Masters 1000 quarter-finals following deep runs in Indian Wells, and the Spaniard has now equalled his career-best showing at that level by again reaching the final four. Alcaraz did not have a Miami win to his name entering this year’s event, but has now strung together four in a row to improve his record on the season to a red-hot 16-2.
Just as he did in a fourth-round win against Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alcaraz went to the drop shot at many crucial moments against Kecmanovic.
“The rest of the match I’m trying to hit the ball hard to push the opponent off the baseline,” he said of his strategy to set up those delicate change-ups. “The drop shot is good for me. I have confidence with that shot. In the tough moments, you have to hit the best shots that you have.”
Kecmanovic provided a stern test for the 18-year-old, who surrendered a set for the first time in the tournament. But after racing through the opening three games of the match and recovering a late mini-break in the opening tie-break, the Serb could not get over the line against the all-action Alcaraz.
After some early miscues, the Spaniard locked in early in the second set as he turned the tables on his opponent to take a 3-0 lead of his own. Both men were able to attack effectively on serve as the rest of the set did not see a break point, until Alcaraz saved one in serving out the set. A whipped forehand winner wiped out the opportunity and helped force a final set.
The deciding set did not see a single break point, though both men twice battled through 30/30, including in consecutive games late in the stanza. Alcaraz never led in the tie-break until match point.
Following the victory, he signed the camera for his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero and Ferrero’s father Eduardo, who recently passed away, keeping the former World No. 1 from travelling to Miami.
Alcaraz will now have less than 24 hours to recover before returning to the stadium court to face defending champion Hubert Hurkacz, a 7-6(7), 6-3 winner over World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev earlier on Thursday.