Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz played their second duel in the Indian Wells semifinal. The two Spaniards trained before the tournament and scored four victories each to set up the semifinal duel. They turned it into an open war, and Nadal won 6-4, 4-6 and 6-3 after three hours and 12 minutes!
It was Rafa's 20th win in as many matches in 2022, nailing an 18-year-old and emerging on top to reach his fourth straight final. The two Spaniards pushed themselves to the limit in difficult conditions and almost impossible to play.
Nadal won four more points than Alcaraz and converted six of 21 break opportunities to emerge on top. Carlos defended 15 break points and stole Rafa's serve five times, fighting like a warrior in his first Masters 1000 semi-final but ending up on the losing end.
Nadal had a slight advantage in the longer rallies. However, there was nothing that separated them, except that late break that the older Spaniard got in the last set. Rafa served 79% in the first set, but that barely helped him in windy conditions.
He lost 13 of 28 points after the initial blow and suffered two breaks from as many opportunities offered to the youngster. On the other hand, Carlos experienced a roller coaster in his games. The teenager offered the more experienced player a whopping 17 break chances and he defended 14!
Still, three return games were enough for Rafa to win the first game 6-4 and move closer to the finish line. Alcaraz landed a forehand winner on the first point of the match and a backhand cross winner to earn an early break.
The teenager fended off five break points in the second game and closed it out with a game-winning smash to cement the lead and move up 2-0. The three-time champion broke again in the fourth game after his opponent's weak forehand to seal the result at 2-2 after a grueling 27 minutes.
Brad Gilbert praises Alcaraz
In remarks granted to Tennis Majors, Brad Gilbert wished to insist on the mentality of Carlos Alcaraz, whom he compares to that of the legendary compatriot of the young world number 1, Rafael Nadal.
“I think a lot about Rafa, his incredible determination, his focus, no matter what happens he keeps fighting. At the US Open, Carlos plays three matches in a row in five sets. He has a late break against Cilic in the fifth, he saves a match point against Sinner, and against Tiafoe he misses a match point in the fourth before winning.
In all these matches, with Carlos it's a bit like with Rafa, you always feel like it's not over until the referee says game, set and game. It's an incredible quality," said the former coach of Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray.