Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz played their second duel in the Indian Wells semifinal. Two Spaniards trained ahead of the tournament and scored four victories each to define the semifinal duel. They turned it into open warfare, and Nadal prevailed 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 after three hours and 12 minutes!
It was Rafa’s 20th win in as many matches in 2022, sinking deep against an 18-year-old and emerging on top to reach his fourth successive final. Two Spaniards pushed themselves to the limit in challenging and almost unplayable conditions.
Nadal won four more points than Alcaraz and converted six of 21 break chances to emerge on top. Carlos defended 15 break points and broke Rafa’s serve five times, fighting like a warrior in his first Masters 1000 semi-final but ending up on the losing side.
Nadal had a slight advantage in the longer rallies. However, there was nothing to pull them apart except that late break the older Spaniard grabbed in the final set. Rafa served 79% in the first match, but that barely brought him anything in windy conditions.
He lost 13 of 28 points behind the opening shot and suffered two breaks out of as many opportunities offered to the youngster. On the other hand, Carlos experienced a roller coaster in his games. A teenager offered the most experienced player no less than 17 break chances and defended 14!
Still, three return games were enough for Rafa to take the first set 6-4 and move closer to the finish line. Alcaraz fired a forehand winner at the first point of the match and fired a booming backhand cross winner for an early break.
A teenager fended off five break points in the second game and closed it out with a big winner to cement the lead and move ahead 2-0. A three-time champion fell back in game four after a loose forehand from the opponent to secure the result at 2-2 after a grueling 27 minutes.
Nadal held at 30 in game five to establish the lead and rallied from 40-15 in the next to break the young weapon with a forehand return winner. Rafa claimed four games in a row but was broken at 4-2 after a forced volley error to keep the opposition on the bright side.
Rafael Nadal beat Carlos Alcaraz in the Indian Wells semifinal.
An 18-year-old worked hard in game eight, avoiding four break points to close out the result at 4-4. Nadal put those chances behind him and held at 15 in game nine with a service winner.
The veteran pushed hard on the return again in game 10 and earned five break chances. Carlos fended off the first four before spraying a backhand slice error in the fifth to propel Rafa to a 6-4 lead after 66 minutes!
The second set started with four good holds. The servers lost ground after that and experienced five consecutive crashes as it became impossible to maintain service in difficult conditions. Game nine turned out to be an epic one, and Alcaraz converted the seventh break opportunity after a brilliant game-winning lob that put him up 5-4.
The youngster served for the set in game ten and held after two to force a decider with two hours and 21 minutes on the clock! The players only dropped a couple of points in their games in the first four games of the final set before Rafa struggled at 2-2.
Giving it his all, the veteran battled past three break points and held on after a prolonged rally for a massive push. The older Spaniard held after two with a serve winner at 3-3, with three hours and two minutes left on the clock!
Nadal secured a crucial break at 4-3 with a volley winner and served for the win in the next. Holding back his nerve, Rafa fired a service winner in game nine to seal the deal and advance to his 53rd Masters 1000 final after an epic battle.