Miami is two different tournaments

Richard Pagliaro | @TennisNow | Monday, March 27, 2023

MIAMI. Surface speeds can vary greatly, but Francisco Cerundolo continues to work his way through the Miami draw.

Before Trials: Miami Open Photo Gallery

Meeting for the third time this season, Francisco Cerundolo stunned sixth-place Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2, 7-5 in the stands today to reach the round of 16 of the Miami Open for the second year in a row.

Controlling the center of the court with his right hand, Cerundolo punished Auger-Aliassime for the second serve, winning 20 of 28 points played on the Canadian’s second serve and breaking four times. The win avenged Cerundolo’s loss to Auger-Aliassime at the Australian Open and Indian Wells earlier this season.

No. 25 Cerundolo went undefeated in a set, extending his Miami career record to 8-1. If you think the Cerundolo’s level of comfort on hard surfaces accounts for such an impressive track record, think again. Cerundolo said the speed on the surface has changed so much this year that he feels like he’s playing in a completely different competition.

“Last year was a lot slower than this year,” Cerundolo told Tennis Now after his first career win over 2019 semi-finalist Auger-Aliassim. “That’s it, two different tournaments.”

FRAN-tastic 🙌

Semifinalist last year @FranCerundolo beat No. 5 Auger-Aliassime 6-2 7-5, breaking Felix’s streak of six Masters 1000 qualifiers in a row!#MiamiOpen

— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 27, 2023

So why is Cerundolo so successful in South Florida?

He attributes this to the culture, the dedicated Argentine fans who support him, and the “good vibes”.

“I love Miami. I feel very comfortable here playing,” Cerundolo told Tennis Now. “I don’t know. Many friends, many Argentines who support me.

“It’s a pleasure to play here. I don’t know, it’s just a good mood. I think my game here is really good. I hope tomorrow I can play well or better.”

The 2022 semi-finalist must repeat his last four runs a year ago to maintain his Argentine number one position. Cerundolo will face either 2022 US Open semifinalist Frances Tiafoe or Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego for a place in the quarterfinals.

“Tiafo is having a great year. He did amazing last year,” said Cerundolo. “I played him here last year in the round of 16 so it will be a rematch if he wins. If Sonego wins, there will be a new match. I never play with him.”

“Both are really good players. Yes, looking forward to my game to try to play as well as today. If I play like that, I think I can beat any of them.”

Photo Credit: Getty

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