Sinner awaits Alcaraz: "It's always fun to play against him"

The Italian and the Spaniard will face each other in the semi-final of the BNP Paribas Open

by Lorenzo Ciotti
Sinner awaits Alcaraz: "It's always fun to play against him"
© Matthew Stockman / Staff Getty Images Sport

"Today was a different situation. At the beginning it was windy, but I handled it very well. He is an incredible player with huge potential with both shots. He was serving very well. Today there wasn't much rhythm , so it's a little bit different match, but for sure I'm very happy with the performance and to be back here in the semi-final."

These are the first words of Jannik Sinner at the press conference. He qualified for the BNP Paribas semifinal by also dominating the match against Jiri Lehecka. The young Italian has once again expressed a truly crazy level on hard-courts and, in the semi-final against his friend/rival Carlos Alcaraz, he will have the chance to overtake the young Spaniard in the ATP ranking, becoming the first No.2 in history of Italian tennis.

Jannik dominated the quarterfinal match from start to finish, without ever giving the impression of suffering. An important victory, considering that the Czech tennis player was coming off two prestigious and convincing victories against Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, to whom he had not conceded even a set. With a double 6-3 in one hour and 28 minutes, Jannik, as mentioned, will challenge Carlitos Alcaraz in the most awaited semi-final of the Californian tournament.

On the hunt for Djokovic's record of 41 consecutive victories at the start of the season, Sinner explained: "I don't remember it, I was 10 years old! I didn't follow tennis, to be honest, because I skied a lot more, I played football. Now I know the statistics, but you can't compare them with the best, with the Big 3 or the Fab 4. They are on another level. I think about building my story."

Jannik Sinner
Jannik Sinner© Matthew Stockman / Staff Getty Images Sport

On the rivalry with Alcaraz, who will be his opponent in the semi-final, repeating last year's challenge.

“It's always fun to play with him! We are good friends off the pitch. On the court we try to give 100%. The matches are usually good. Last year against him, especially on this court, I struggled a lot. He played a lot better than me, and then two weeks later I played in Miami and I won.

Alcaraz has a tough match with Zverev (during Jannik's press conference, the match was still ongoing, Alcaraz defeated Zverev 6-3 6-1 - ed.). It will be a good match and we will see who will play against me. I look forward to every challenge," he told.

"Carlos certainly pushed me to improve. I believe that every player, when struggling to win or beat an opponent, has something to work on. It's not just Carlos. There are other players who have made me grow as a player.

When you reach this kind of level, then you have to work for different things again. I think that's what the previous Big 3 or Big 4 have done in a similar way. We try to do the same. But who will be the next top player we don't know yet, because we are all so young," added Sinner.

Jannik Sinner
Jannik Sinner© Matthew Stockman / Staff Getty Images Sport

The match

Not even Jiri Lehecka, as mentioned at the beginning of the article, able to beat Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas during the tournament, was able to keep up with Jannik Sinner, who guaranteed access to the semi-finals of the ATP Master 1000 in Indian Wells, without losing not even a set since the start of the competition.

Jannik set a very high pace from the first rallies, in which he conceded practically nothing and made very few mistakes. The Czech tried to stay in the game by holding onto his serve, especially from the left, and a forehand which however betrayed him on more than one occasion. In the third game, with the advantages and after three unexploited chances thanks to the Czech player, Sinner broke the balance and obtained the break.

An advantage that the 22-year-old Italian defended without any particular problems, thanks also to a very positive percentage of firsts (74% in the opening set). Down 5-3, Jiri started making a lot of mistakes again and lost his serve again and left the set (6-3).

In the second set Sinner's performance dropped exclusively on serve but Lehecka did not exponentially raise his level to remain visibly close in scoring and put Sinner in difficulty.

In the fourth game, Jannik set the break, again with the advantages, but this time at the second opportunity. Except for a break point granted at 4-3 in the first set, Jannik no longer gave his opponent break opportunities.

The only discordant note was the percentage of firsts in the entire set: just 36%. Despite this very negative data, Sinner held all the innings quite easily. Jiri, down 5-2, managed to save himself and cancel two match points for the Italian. In the next game, however, Jannik definitively closed the game 6-3.