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Carlos Alcaraz of Spain plays a forehand against Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in their third round match during the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Indian Wells: Reigning Grand Slam champions Jannik Sinner and Carlos Alcaraz turned in dominating performances on Sunday to roll into the fourth round of the ATP-WTA Indian Wells Masters.

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The two hottest young racquets in the sport showed no mercy in quick-fire victories with Australian Open champion Sinner overwhelming Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-4.

“Almost perfect” Alcaraz, the reigning Wimbledon champion, stepped up his 2023 title defence with a 6-2, 6-3 victory over Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The world No 2 Spaniard allowed his Canadian opponent no room to move, reaching the fourth round with his eighth match win in a row at the event.

“It was almost the perfect match for me,” said Alcaraz, who broke Auger-Aliassime’s serve four times. “I moved well, played aggressive and had less mistakes.”

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Jannik Sinner of Italy stretches for a forehand return against Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany in their third round match during the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Sinner was equally ruthless as he attacked Struff, with the Italian winning his 17th match in succession dating to his country’s Davis Cup victory in November.

Both of the young guns needed barely an hour and a quarter to claim their victories.

27 winners

Sinner fired 27 winners past Struff, whose style gave the third seed a target on court.

“We prepared very well, I tried to learn his moves,” Sinner said. “I played well and served well under pressure.

“Overall I can be really happy about today, I felt really good on the court.”

Alcaraz won the last five games of the opening set and broke to start the second on his way to repeating his win over Auger-Aliassime from the 2023 quarter-finals.

The second seed finished off victory on his first match point as Auger-Aliassime hit the net with his 23rd unforced error.

It was a welcome show of strength from Alcaraz, who hasn’t won a title since winning his second Grand Slam with a stunning triumph over Novak Djokovic at the All England Club last year.

He exited the Australian Open in the quarter-finals then lost in the semi-finals at Buenos Aires last month before spraining his ankle and retiring from his opening match in Rio de Janeiro.

“I played at a really high level of tennis, so much higher than the first round,” the Spaniard said. “Hopefully (I’ll) keep climbing (raising) my level.”

Alcaraz may still be feeling the effects of the ankle, which has left him short of 2024 match play.

“My confidence has gone down a little bit, I’ve been struggling during the practice every day,” he admitted. “I’m trying to keep my confidence as high as I can.”

In other matches, Australian Alex de Minaur, seeded 10th, dominated Dubai finalist Alexander Bublik 7-5, 6-0.

Greek 11th-seed Stefanos Tsitsipas eliminated a home crowd favourite with his 6-3, 6-3 defeat of Frances Tiafoe, who reached the Californian quarters a year ago.

“I’m happy with this victory because I had a good start,” former top-10 player Tsitsipas said. “I maintained that throughout the match.

“Of course he was going to fight back at some point and present a more difficult challenge for me in the second set, but I fought back.

“I held serve, and I stayed really committed to what I was doing.”

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Iga Swiatek of Poland plays a backhand volley against Linda Noskova of the Czech Republic in their third round match during the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Swiatek revenge

In WTA play, Iga Swiatek claimed quick revenge for a January loss as she hammered Czech Linda Noskova 6-4, 6-0 to reach the fourth round.

The Polish top seed was defeated by the 29th-ranked challenger in an Australian Open third-round upset.

On Sunday, world No 1 Swiatek quickly recovered after going down an early break to the 19-year-old, levelling at 4-all and sweeping through the remainder of the third-round match.

Swiatek will next face Kazakh Yulia Putintseva, who beat Madison Keys 6-4, 6-1.

The Pole said she learnt from her loss to Noskova in Melbourne.

“It was much smarter to think about how to just play against Linda rather than focusing on my mistakes,” she said. “I was motivated to just play better and not make the same mistakes but to improve my game in some aspects.”

Swiatek said that despite winning the last 10 games of the match, she will not depend on that kind of superlative form. “I wouldn’t say I felt like I’m in a roll, because I was still so focused. I know that players can easily switch the momentum back.”

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Angelique Kerber of Germany in action against Veronika Kudermetova of Russia at Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Sunday. Image Credit: AFP

Kerber ‘done with practice’

Angelique Kerber reached the fourth round with an “intense” win over Veronika Kudermetova, saying afterwards it’s just what she needs on her comeback from maternity leave.

The 36-year-old with three Grand Slam titles, who welcomed the birth of daughter Liana last year, defeated the 17th-seeded Russian 6-4, 7-5.

“It was a really intense match — almost two hours for two sets,” said the German. “It’s another important win for me and gives me confidence for the next rounds.

“I was feeling good,” Kerber added. “Hitting the balls good, moving good. I’m on the way to playing again good tennis against the best players.”

Kerber said that she prefers playing tournaments instead of spending long hours on the practice court.

“I’ve practised now for months — I’m done with practice,” she said. “I’m happy to be having matches now.

“If you go out on the practice court every single day and do the same things, it’s nice to be now in the tournament.

“We had three, four months of practice, preparation. It was a long time, so that’s why I’m happy having tournaments now.”

Kerber’s victory set up a showdown with fellow WTA tennis mother Caroline Wozniacki, who booked her spot in the last 16 by defeating American Katie Volynets 6-2, 4-6, 6-0.

The pair of former No 1s last met in 2019.

“We are friends now and we will be still friends after a match,” Kerber said. “We will try of course to win.

“But at the end, I think there are more important things than a tennis match. For the crowd it will be an interesting match,” she said.