2022 In Review: Carlos Alcaraz Sets Rafael Nadal Desert Duel

Carlos Alcaraz sets Rafael Nadal desert duel


Carlos Alcaraz, 18, trained with Rafael Nadal before Indian Wells. Two Spaniards played well in the desert to set up the semifinal clash, their second on Tour. Carlos competed in his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal and defeated defending champion Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 44 minutes for his best finish at this level of competition.

Carlos arrived in Indian Wells on the heels of the ATP 500 Rio title and first Davis Cup triumph, gathering momentum and shifting it to the first Masters 1000 event of the season. Alcaraz defeated four opponents to find himself in the final four and become the youngest Indian Wells semifinalist since Andre Agassi in 1988.

Carlos was also the sixth youngest Masters 1000 semifinalist after Denis Shapovalov, Michael Chang, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Rafael Nadal and Richard Gasquet. The Spaniard played better on the second serve and defended five of nine break chances.

It took more than four breaks for the defending champion to make an impact. The Brit lost 56% of the points behind the opening shot and allowed the Spaniard to break it six times and seal the deal in straight sets.

The youngster tallied nearly 40 winners and 22 unforced errors. He stood out as a more aggressive player and outpointed Norrie at shorter range as many as four shots to take home the win. A lefty broke in the opening game of the encounter and hit a game-winning volley in the second game for a perfect start.

Carlos saved a break point in the third game with a serve winner and held on with a game-winning volley to put his name on the scoreboard. Alcaraz pulled back in the fourth game with a game-winning volley to gain momentum. He saved a break chance in the next with a service winner and held on with a behind-the-back backhand volley winner for 3-2.

Carlos Alcaraz reached the Indian Wells semifinal.

Cameron painted a perfect forehand return in game seven to earn a break and had game point for 5-3. Carlos stayed alive in that eighth game and broke through with an incredible volley into the net.

The youngster landed a forehand winner in game nine to move 5-4 in front and earned a set point on the return thanks to a big winner at the net. Norrie saved it and created a game point. He failed to convert and missed two more before Alcaraz earned set point after a forehand error from the opponent for 6-4 in 55 minutes.

Cameron grabbed a break at 1-1 in the second set and received a medical timeout on his left leg and hip during the break. Carlos recovered the break at 15 in game four following a loose forehand from Cameron and held at 30 with a serve winner to open a 3-2 gap.

The youngster broke for the second time in a row in game six to carve out a 4-2 lead and move closer to the finish line. Norrie trailed 40-15 in the seventh game before coming from behind to steal the opponent’s serve with a deep return that forced Carlos’ error.

Alcaraz stayed focused and produced his third straight break with a forehand cross winner in game eight. The Spaniard fell in love with a forehand down the line winner at 5-3 to emerge on top and advance to his first Masters 1000 semi-final at 18.

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