2022 in Review: Carlos Alcaraz sets Rafael Nadal desert duel



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2022 in Review: Carlos Alcaraz sets Rafael Nadal desert duel

An 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz trained with Rafael Nadal ahead of Indian Wells. Two Spaniards played well in the desert to set the semi-final clash, their second on the Tour. Carlos competed in his first Masters 1000 quarter-final and toppled thew defending champion Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-3 in an hour and 44 minutes for his best result at this level of competition.

Carlos came to Indian Wells following the ATP 500 Rio title and the first Davis Cup triumph, gathering a boost and shifting it to the season's first Masters 1000 event. Alcaraz defeated four rivals to find himself in the last four and become the youngest Indian Wells semi-finalist since Andre Agassi in 1988.

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

More than four breaks were needed for the defending champion to make an impact. The Briton dropped 56% of the points behind the initial shot and allowed the Spaniard to break him six times and seal the deal in straight sets.

The youngster counted almost 40 winners and 22 unforced errors. He stood as a more aggressive player and outplayed Norrie in the shortest range up to four strokes to bring the victory home. A left-hander broke in the encounter's opening game and placed a volley winner in game two for a perfect start.

Carlos saved a break point in game three with a service winner and held with a volley winner to get his name on the scoreboard. Alcaraz broke back in game four with a volley winner to gain a boost. He saved a break chance in the next one with a service winner and held with a behind-the-back backhand volley winner for 3-2.

Carlos Alcaraz reached the Indian Wells semi-final.

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

The youngster placed a forehand winner in game nine to move 5-4 in front and earned a set point on the return thanks to a smash winner at the net. Norrie saved it and created a game point. He failed to convert it and missed two more before Alcaraz clinched a set point after the rival's forehand mistake 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 pause. Carlos pulled the break back at 15 in game four following Cameron's loose forehand and held at 30 with a service winner to open a 3-2 gap.

The youngster broke for the second straight time in game six to forge a 4-2 advantage and move closer to the finish line. Norrie trailed 40-15 in the seventh game before climbing back and stealing the rival's serve with a deep return that forced Carlos' mistake.

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