Carlos Alcaraz rallies and downs Matteo Arnaldi in Indian Wells

Carlos Alcaraz played well in his first match in the desert

by Jovica Ilic
Carlos Alcaraz rallies and downs Matteo Arnaldi in Indian Wells
© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

World no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz kicked off the Indian Wells title defense with a 6-7, 6-0, 6-1 win over Italy's Matteo Arnaldi. Carlos played his first match since injuring his ankle in Rio, struggling to break the rival's resistance in the opener but taking 12 of the final 13 games to bring the victory home.

The Spaniard played well behind the first serve, saving three out of four break points and seizing six breaks from 13 chances, sailing through sets two and three and setting the third-round clash against Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Carlos had a massive advantage in the shortest range up to four strokes from the second set, earning the win in that segment. Matteo denied a break point in the third game of the match, avoiding an early setback.

Carlos Alcaraz, Indian Wells 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Alcaraz fired a service winner for a hold at love in game four and 2-2 before holding at 30 two games later, locking the result at 3-3.

The Spaniard attacked in the seventh game and grabbed a break with a volley winner at the net that sent him 4-3 in front. Instead of building on that, Carlos played a loose forehand in the eighth game, losing serve and bringing Matteo back to the positive side.

The Italian held after deuces in game nine, and the Spaniard served to stay in the set at 4-5. Alcaraz held at love for 5-5 before experiencing a set point on serve in game 12. He saved it with a forehand crosscourt winner and introduced a tie break.

Arnaldi made a better start and built a 5-2 advantage after Alcaraz's loose forehand.

Carlos Alcaraz made a winning start in Indian Wells.

World no. 2 bounced back to 5-5 before spraying a backhand error in the 11th point, offering his rival the second set point.

Carlos netted a backhand, dropping the opener 7-6 after 65 minutes and finding himself in a challenging position. The Spaniard raised his level in the second set, barely losing a point behind the initial shot and mounting the pressure on the other side.

He led at love in the opening game with a booming serve and forced Arnaldi's volley error in the next one for a break and a 2-0 advantage. The 20-year-old closed the third game with a forehand winner and notched another break after Matteo's loose forehand a few minutes later.

Alcaraz moved 5-0 up with a service winner and built a 40-0 lead in game six.

Carlos Alcaraz, Indian Wells 2024© Clive Brunskill / Staff - Getty Images Sport

The Italian denied three set points to reach deuce and erased two more.

However, Matteo sprayed a forehand error on the sixth set point, allowing Alcaraz to claim a bagel and introduce a decider after an hour and 32 minutes. The Spaniard held at 15 in the first game and erased the Italian's two game points in the next one.

Carlos earned a break point with a volley winner and seized it after Matteo's loose forehand, moving 2-0 up and extending his streak. World no. 2 clinched his ninth straight game with a service winner in game three before facing two break points at 3-1.

Alcaraz saved the first with a volley winner and drew Arnaldi's mistake on the second, moving 4-1 in front and closer to the finish line. The young gun landed a fine drop shot in the sixth game, clinching another break and serving for the win at 5-1.

Carlos landed a volley winner for match points and seized the first, sealing the deal in style and moving into the third round. The Acapulco champion Alex de Minaur ousted Taro Daniel 6-1, 6-2 in 58 minutes following a rock-solid display.

The Aussie served at 54%, and no one could notice that. Alex dropped 11 points in seven service games, defending the only break chance he faced and keeping the pressure on the other side. Daniel could not endure it, losing 60% of the points in his games and suffering five breaks from six chances offered to his opponent.

Alex left Taro miles behind in the shortest rallies up to four strokes.

Alex de Minaur, Indian Wells 2024© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

He delivered more efficient numbers in the more advanced ones, sealing the deal in under an hour and moving into the last 32.

De Minaur held after deuce in the second game of the encounter and grabbed a break in the next one for a 2-1 advantage. Alex clinched another break in game five, imposing his strokes and extending the gap. The Aussie held at love in game six for 5-1 and came from 40-15 down in the next one, seizing the second set point for 6-1 in no time.

They served well at the beginning of the second set, with Daniel staying in touch and already doing better than in the opener. De Minaur saved a break point in game five and took charge, earning a break at love in the next one for a 4-2 lead.

The Aussie produced a hold at love in game seven for 5-2, forcing his rival to serve to stay in the match. The Japanese suffered another break, propelling his opponent into the third round.

Carlos Alcaraz Matteo Arnaldi Indian Wells