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Fritz: Moments Like This ‘The Best Part Of It All’

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2022

Fritz: Moments Like This ‘The Best Part Of It All’

24-year-old beat seventh seed Rublev to set Nadal final clash

With his opponent coming in on a 13-match winning-streak, Taylor Fritz could have been forgiven for buckling under the pressure.

Yet the American admitted his underdog status had given him licence to play without pressure against the in-form Andrey Rublev in the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday, as he clinched a 7-5, 6-4 win to become the first American man to reach the championship match in Indian Wells since John Isner in 2012.

“It’s awesome,” said Fritz at his post-match press conference. “I feel like I’ve served really well all week [but] prior to today didn’t play my best tennis from the back of the court. I feel like a little bit of that was nerves, kind of seeing the draw open up, playing these matches where I kind of expect myself to win.

“Today was a bit different. I knew that I had to play to a certain level. I couldn’t play the way I was playing previous matches. So I played by far my best match today from the ground, especially. I hit the ball really well, so [it is] definitely kind of the confidence booster I need going into the final, to feel like I am really playing my best tennis.

“Those moments are the reason why I wanted to be an athlete, wanted to play professional tennis. It’s the best part of it all.”

The 20th seed now attempts to become the first man to defeat Rafael Nadal in 2022 in Sunday’s final. The pair has met only once on the ATP Tour, in the final of the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco in 2020. The Spaniard ran out a 6-3, 6-2 winner that day but Fritz is not worried about past experiences affecting him during the clash in Indian Wells.

“I think my level’s so much higher than then,” said the American. “So I maybe won’t be feeling like I need to pull the trigger so much, need to do so much. I can just play more within myself.”

Despite his own improvements, Fritz knows what to expect from the relentless Spaniard and acknowledges he will need to hit his peak level if he wants to pull off a famous victory in front of his home fans.

“He [Nadal] is always going to be there every point, he’s not going to give you anything,” said Fritz. “It’s just the competitiveness, he’s always going to want it so bad.

“From my standpoint, maybe I’m not going to get completely served off the court, I can potentially get looks at return games. But he’s such a good returner that it [also] works the other way, he’s going to get looks at my serves. I’ve been serving great all week, but he’ll still return my serve.”


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Looking at the bigger picture of his 2022 season, Fritz will not be putting too much pressure on getting a result on Sunday and will view his run at Indian Wells as a positive regardless of whether he ends up lifting the trophy.

“This is a long season,” said the World No. 20. “So I’m going to go out, play the final tomorrow just like I played the match today. If I win that’s awesome. If I lose, it’s a good week. I’m going to go just play my style of tennis and I’m not going to let the moment affect me.

“It’s a great start to the year either way, and [I will] regroup, build on it, and keep these results coming the rest of the year. I really do feel like once you have certain results, it makes it a lot easier for me to repeat it and do it again, once I have that confidence that I’ve been there before.”

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Final Preview: Can Fritz Prevent Nadal From Making History?

The 2019 Eastbourne champion believes coming face to face with Nadal once again will only help him in his pursuit of further success in 2022. He takes inspiration from the Spaniard, as well as Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, as he tries to emulate some of their achievements.

“I think [it is] amazing [how] you can have three guys that are so incredibly good, that all have a completely different process of going about their training and their business, and how there’s not one way or one thing that they do to become the best.

“It’s really interesting seeing how they all have different processes. It’s just really cool seeing that they all have their own way that works for them and as a younger player it’s good knowing that you do what works for you.”

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Nadal On Alcaraz: ‘All The Ingredients To Be Amazing Champion’

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2022

Nadal On Alcaraz: ‘All The Ingredients To Be Amazing Champion’

World No. 4 believes countryman is destined for the top

Rafael Nadal knows what it takes to become an all-time great. So when he touts someone for success, it’s best to sit up and take notice.

The legendary Spaniard weathered tricky conditions to edge his young compatriot Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in a semi-final thriller at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells on Saturday. It was nonetheless another stunning showing from 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion Alcaraz, whose performances continue to belie his tender age.

At his post-match press conference, Nadal highlighted the versatility of the 18-year-old’s game as something that particularly stands out.

“I think he has all the shots,” said Nadal after extending his unbeaten record this year to 20-0. “He can play very aggressive. He can play defensive because he’s super fast. He can defend amazing balls. Of course, when he’s playing aggressive, it is difficult to stop him because the quality of his ball is very high.

“I think he has all the ingredients to become an amazing champion. I didn’t come to the match more nervous because I was playing a youngster. I treated it like I was playing against a top-eight player. In terms of level, that was my feeling.”


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Nadal sees elements of his own experiences in the way Alcaraz is handling his rapid rise. He has faith that the young Spaniard will stay on course for greatness.

“When you are young, when you are living new experiences for the first time, everything is new,” said Nadal. “You are playing in stadiums, against opponents, in tournaments that just one or two years ago you were watching on TV.

“I think you’re excited. You have the passion. You have nothing to lose…he’s at the beginning of this process.

“It looks like he’s humble enough to work hard and to understand that we, the tennis players, if we want to be great champions, the only way is to keep improving during all our careers. That’s what I tried. I really believe that he’s doing that.

“I don’t have many doubts that he will be great. He is already, by the way!”

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Such is Alcaraz’s level that his opponent deployed a change of strategy to give himself the best possible chance against the World No. 19. Nadal’s volleying prowess is perhaps often overlooked, but he came forward regularly on Saturday night to try and counter the Alcaraz game, winning 54 per cent (20/37) points coming forward according to Infosys ATP Stats. Despite the tactic not always working out, the Spaniard was pleased with how it served him at the most crucial moments.

“Today I did easy volleys, bad volleys, and very difficult volleys, great volleys,” said Nadal. “Especially at the end I saved some amazing balls with the volley. I played aggressive. [I was] determined to do what I needed to do to win the match.

“I like to come into the net. The last couple of years I am doing [it] more and more. I even do serve-and-volley more often than I used to…I feel comfortable there. It’s something that I need to do. As part of my game at this stage of my career, I need to do things to play more aggressive. Going to the net helps my game in general.”

Nadal now hunts a record-equalling 37th ATP Masters 1000 title (levelling with Novak Djokovic) in Sunday’s final against home favourite Taylor Fritz. The Spaniard took their only previous meeting in the final of the 2020 Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in Acapulco in straight sets, but has been impressed with the 20th seed’s progress in Indian Wells.

“We are different players. I don’t think [the Acapulco match] is important. I am ready to face a very tough opponent, playing with amazing confidence. Since the beginning of the season, he’s playing a great level of tennis, so it is going to be a tough one.”

Despite the heavy schedule his success in 2022 has brought him, Nadal is ready for another big push in Sunday’s championship match. “Physically I feel well,” he said. “I played almost three hours the other day, three hours today. In terms of physical performance, I don’t feel very tired.

“With the conditions, I always felt good physically here. I think I never lost a match here for a physical issue, in terms of being tired. I am quite well, honestly. I can’t complain. I am enjoying it. I had plenty of tough battles this week, but I am still alive.”

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Final Preview: Can Fritz Prevent Nadal From Making History?

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2022

Final Preview: Can Fritz Prevent Nadal From Making History?

Spaniard is aiming to clinch record-equalling 37th ATP Masters 1000 crown

Rafael Nadal will aim to write another historic chapter into his legendary career on Sunday when he faces American Taylor Fritz in the BNP Paribas Open final.

The Spaniard has been red-hot this season, with his three-set semi-final victory over #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz extending his personal-best start to a year to 20-0. If the World No. 4 can defeat Fritz in the championship match, he will clinch a record-equalling 37th ATP Masters 1000 crown, drawing level with Novak Djokovic.

The fourth seed, who has spent over 12 hours on court en route to the final, is delighted with his run in the California desert and is ready for a tough test against Fritz.

“Being in the final here in Indian Wells means a lot to me,” Nadal said following his win over Alcaraz. “[It] is a very special place. A match like today helps for the confidence. I know I will need to be ready physically and mentally, in terms of playing at a very high level of tennis because he’s playing well.

“[Fritz played a] super aggressive match against a very difficult player to play like Rublev. I think he played with great determination and very aggressively. I saw a lot of the match and he played very well.”

While Nadal prepares to compete in his 53rd Masters 1000 final, Fritz will be playing in his first after he edged Andrey Rublev 7-5, 6-4 on Saturday to maintain his impressive record in Indian Wells.

The World No. 20 is a California native and is the first American man to advance to the championship match at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden since John Isner in 2012. If Fritz can go one step further and upset Nadal, he will become the first man from his country to lift the Indian Wells trophy since Andre Agassi in 2001.

“It doesn’t even seem real,” Fritz said after his win against Rublev. “I’m just trying to take in the moment, regroup and come back tomorrow for the final. But it’s a dream come true.

“These moments are the reason why I wanted to be an athlete, wanted to play professional tennis. It’s the best part of it all.”

Fritz is now 9-1 in Indian Wells in the past six months, having also reached the semi-finals in October when the event was moved from March 2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

He has notched impressive wins against Top 10 stars Matteo Berrettini, Alexander Zverev and Rublev across the two editions of the event and is projected to climb into the Top 15 of the ATP Rankings on Monday.


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Nadal will carry a 1-0 ATP Head2Head series lead into the match after he triumphed 6-3, 6-2 in their clash in the final in Acapulco in 2020. It is an encounter Fritz is aiming to learn from as he gears up for the biggest match of his career.

“I remember I felt he played high spinny balls to me and almost gave me a lot of forehands in my favourite spot at shoulder height,” Fritz said. “I think he just kept doing it until I missed eventually.

“I kind of beat myself trying to fire off winners against him. I think my level is so much higher than then, so I won’t be feeling I need to pull the trigger so much. I can kind of play more within myself.”

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This week, Fritz has eliminated Kamil Majchrzak, Jaume Munar, Alex de Minaur, Miomir Kecmanovic as well as Rublev, while Nadal has taken out Sebastian Korda, Daniel Evans, Reilly Opelka, Nick Kyrgios and Alcaraz.

Nadal has enjoyed a remarkable 2022 season, winning titles at the Melbourne Summer Set and the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, while he won a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam trophy at the Australian Open. The 35-year-old is projected to rise to No. 3 on Monday.

Meanwhile, Fritz earned ATP Cup victories over Felix Auger-Aliassime and Cameron Norrie before reaching the fourth round at Melbourne Park. The 20th seed, who lifted the trophy in Eastbourne in 2019, will be aiming to win his second tour-level title when he plays Nadal on Stadium 1 at 3:00 p.m. local time.

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Verstappen Fan Griekspoor Full Throttle After Historic 2021 Season

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2022

Verstappen Fan Griekspoor Full Throttle After Historic 2021 Season

Dutchman won a record seven ATP Challenger Tour titles in ’21

As Belgian-Dutch driver Max Verstappen begins his pursuit of a second consecutive Formula 1 World Championship this weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix, Dutch tennis player Tallon Griekspoor will be firmly in his corner.

The 25-year-old, who will be competing in next week’s Miami Open presented by Itau, greatly enjoys Formula 1. In December, when Verstappen clinched the world championship in Abu Dhabi, Griekspoor was a keen viewer.

“That was crazy,” Griekspoor recently told “That was probably one of the biggest achievements in sports in a really long time. Max is doing unbelievably for Dutch sport. We are a pretty small country. I think all the people in Holland have been into Formula 1 for quite a [while], it’s a popular sport, but then since Max is doing so well, since he got into it, it’s been crazy. It’s been all about Formula One.

“Him clinching the championship in that last round was absolutely crazy. I was not in Holland back then, I was in some hotel room jumping through my hotel room so excited. But yeah, that was really big, and he did an amazing job.”

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At the time, Griekspoor was in the Czech Republic, where he admitted to having plenty of nervous moments during the race.

“I remember driving from the airport, bad connection, I was watching on the phone, trying on another phone to get a better connection, it was losing connection all the time. But then it was looking so bad because Lewis was just pretty much faster,” Griekspoor said. “Then the safety car… I was back in my hotel alone in my room. It was crazy, I was screaming, guys from my team [in] the room next to me were like ‘What are you doing? Are you okay?’”

Griekspoor grew up with motorsport in his family, although he did not participate in it too much, and even then just for fun. He has seen Verstappen a couple of times, but never formally met the racing champion.

The Dutchman is blossoming into a star himself, though. Last year, Griekspoor set the record for most ATP Challenger Tour titles in a season with seven. The 25-year-old did not fully grasp the magnitude of his achievements until the offseason.

“You just keep on going from one tournament to the other. Then at the beginning of the year you start in the ATPs and that’s probably the point where you realise, ‘I did well’,” Griekspoor said. “Now I’m playing ATPs every week, but you just keep on going.”

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Griekspoor began 2021 at No. 153. Little more than 14 months later, he is on the verge of moving into the Top 50.

“Sometimes it’s good to realise how well you did, and also be proud of what you did. It’s not normal, not everybody does it, going that way so fast,” Griekspoor said. “There are so many good young guys, we all go so fast. It seems normal, but it’s not normal, that’s the thing. I’m enjoying it a lot.”

Like Verstappen, Griekspoor does not fear the big stage. As a 21-year-old, he stunned Stan Wawrinka in Rotterdam. He has also defeated Top 15 players Karen Khachanov and Aslan Karatsev at his home event.

“I had some good wins there, obviously beat some big names there,” said Griekspoor. “This year, Karatsev, crazy match. Coming back, like, I was nowhere, he was all over me. There was not much crowd this year [because of the Covid-19 pandemic], only like 1,250 people I think, but the years before I played in a pretty much sold-out arena, which was like 10,000 people. I love to play at home, I love to play in front of the crowds, I love to play on the big court. That for me is why I play tennis.”

Not only did Griekspoor play a lot of matches last year thanks to his success on the ATP Challenger Tour, but he also gained invaluable experience against some of the best players in the sport. The Dutchman lost against Alexander Zverev at Wimbledon and Novak Djokovic at the US Open.

“I enjoy playing those guys, I’m ready to fight with them. I’m willing to battle with them and, even though I’m losing, I’m still enjoying the battle,” Griekspoor said. “I’m trying to see where I can improve. Those guys are good, really good.”

A year ago, Griekspoor aimed to crack the Top 100 in the ATP Rankings. He eclipsed that mark, finishing 2021 at year-end No. 65. He does not want to put a number on his goals for 2022.

“I’m just looking to play week in, week out with those guys,” Griekspoor said. “Maybe I’m looking for my first ATP title somewhere. Why not? For me, the level in Challengers is also tough. It’s not like it’s a lot different, so maybe that’s a goal, but it’s not like if I don’t make it this year I’m done. I think I have many years to come.

“I’m feeling confident, I’m playing well, battling with the best guys in the world, so I’m looking forward to it.”

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Alcaraz: 'I Was Playing Against Rafa & Against Me'

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2022

Alcaraz: ‘I Was Playing Against Rafa & Against Me’

Spanish teen reflects on thriller against Nadal

Carlos Alcaraz fell short of ending Rafael Nadal’s perfect start to 2022 on Saturday evening at the BNP Paribas Open, but the 18-year-old is departing Indian Wells with his head held high.

The #NextGenATP star admitted that he began the match nervously, before going blow for blow with one of the best players in history.

“The first set I was playing against Rafa and against me. I was always thinking that I’m playing against Rafa,” Alcaraz said. “In the second set and the third set [I was thinking], ‘Okay, I’m playing against Rafa, but I’m going to show my level, I’m going to give my 100 per cent that I [could] be able to beat him or [come] close to beating him.’”

Come close Alcaraz did. So often Nadal is able to exert his will against his opponents, especially those who are new on Tour. But the fourth seed had to dig deep in their clash, which lasted three hours and 12 minutes, to make the final in the California desert. And even then, the match came down to a few critical points in the decider.

Alcaraz showed maturity well beyond his 18 years. Not only did he have to deal with Rafa, but there was a third opponent on the court: the wind. In the middle of the second set, the wind picked up significantly, leading to towels and garbage from the stands flying across the court.

“In the second set, [there was] a lot of wind. We survived,” Alcaraz said. “I think it wasn’t a tennis match in the second set.”

Even so, Alcaraz managed to win that set. He maintained his composure like a veteran despite everything Nadal and the conditions threw at him on Saturday. The reigning Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion believes the experience he gained during his breakthrough 2021 season allowed him to perform this well on one of the sport’s biggest stages.

“I think last year [there] were a lot of first times for me. I mean, first win in a Grand Slam, first Masters 1000. A lot of first times,” Alcaraz said. “Now I played more matches against Top 10 players, big matches in big stadiums. I think now I’m more mature. I know how to control myself, the emotions.

“Now I know [this] is my level. [I] know how to play against these kind of players. That’s the most important, [to] know your level and what you have to do.”

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The first time Alcaraz and Nadal met, last year in Madrid, it was clear Carlos had a long way to go. That day, he only won three games. This time in a Masters 1000 semi-final, there was little to tell between the two Spaniards.

“[It was my] second time against Rafa. I feel like I’m part of that level. I am part of these kind of players,” Alcaraz said. “I think I’m going to play against Rafa or the best players a lot this year.”

Throughout the world, Nadal is a fan favourite. While the California crowd showed its appreciation for the three-time Indian Wells champion, with plenty of cheering and supportive signs throughout the crowd, the fans also gave Alcaraz their respect.

“The atmosphere was amazing,” Alcaraz said. “In the third set, we played really good tennis.”

The teen said the biggest lesson he took from the match was to remain as calm as possible against a player like Nadal in order to be able to think through the tough moments. Not only did Alcaraz show why he is the future on Saturday — he learned while doing it.

“I was playing against Rafa. I think it was a close match. I leave the tournament happy. I left the court happy with the level, with the performance,” Alcaraz said. “[The] first time he destroyed me. Now we played [a] third set… I’m really happy.”

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Alcaraz is projected to climb to a career-high No. 16 in the ATP Rankings on Monday. That would move Alcaraz past Roberto Bautista Agut — whom he defeated in Indian Wells with the loss of just two games — to make him the second-ranked Spaniard.

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Isner/Sock Claim Second Indian Wells Title Together

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2022

Isner/Sock Claim Second Indian Wells Title Together

Americans now own three ATP Masters 1000 trophies as a team

Americans John Isner and Jack Sock won their second BNP Paribas Open title together on Saturday evening when they defeated Mexico’s Santiago Gonzalez and France’s Edouard Roger-Vasselin 7-6(4), 6-3 for the trophy.

The wild cards saved all 11 break points they faced and found clutch shots in the big moments to earn the crown after 80 minutes in front of a thrilled crowd, which remained inside Stadium 1 following a memorable singles semi-final between Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz that lasted more than three hours.

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“From the bottom of our hearts, we wouldn’t enjoy playing out here if it wasn’t for the fans. It’s nice to have the fans back and to be playing in the States in front of our home fans is unbelievable,” Sock said during the trophy ceremony. “Thank you guys for staying, seriously.”

The close friends have not played together often, but they have made an impressive duo when they have. Isner and Sock are now 26-8 as a pair, with three ATP Masters 1000 titles.

“Jack and I always enjoy our time here. It feels amazing to share the court with Jack, so thank you for playing with me,” Isner said. “A huge thank you to [Tournament Director] Tommy Haas for the wild card, because without that, we would not have been able to play. So Tommy, we owe you dinner buddy!”

The Americans impressively stormed through the field from the first round, with wins over 2021 year-end No. 1 team Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic as well as Australian Open champions Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios among their victories.

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Despite their loss, it was an impressive run for Gonzalez and Roger-Vasselin, who were competing together for the first time. Last July, Roger-Vasselin underwent hip surgery. This was his first final since.

“Thank you for staying here, even though you were cheering for the Americans,” Roger-Vasselin joked with the crowd. “Thanks to my partner for texting me two weeks ago. We were not supposed to play together, but in the end we did a great tournament.”

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Alcaraz Levels Blockbuster Indian Wells SF Against Nadal In High Winds

  • Posted: Mar 20, 2022

Alcaraz Levels Blockbuster Indian Wells SF Against Nadal In High Winds

Winner will play Fritz in Sunday’s final

Carlos Alcaraz has levelled his highly anticipated BNP Paribas Open semi-final against Rafael Nadal at 4-6, 6-4 after two hours and 22 minutes, with the winner to face Taylor Fritz in Sunday’s Indian Wells final.

It was a notable scene as cameras followed Nadal and Alcaraz on their golf-cart ride to the court in the California desert. Nadal, a legendary figure throughout the sports world, was on the back of the cart, intense as ever. Alcaraz, who was in the middle row, is touted as the future of Spanish tennis and, perhaps, the ATP Tour.

Little did they know that not only would they have to deal with each other’s skills, but an extended period of massive wind gusts. Following a gruelling, high-quality first set, the wind picked up to such an extent that towels and garbage from the stands flew across the court, the singles sticks became displaced, and the match became a battle of footwork adjustments more than bludgeoned winners.

“This is not tennis. This is survival,” former World No. 1 Jim Courier said on Tennis Channel during the second set.

“The net looks like a sail,” longtime coach and courtside analyst Paul Annacone added.

Eighteen-year-old Alcaraz, who has saved 15 of the 20 break points he has faced through two sets, is the second-youngest semi-finalist in Indian Wells tournament history behind 17-year-old Andre Agassi in 1988. He is trying to halt Nadal’s personal-best 19-0 start to the season. The lefty has captured titles at a Melbourne ATP 250, the Australian Open and Acapulco.

The pair clashed for the first time last year on clay in Madrid, where Nadal triumphed 6-1, 6-2 in just 78 minutes behind five service breaks. But it was clear from the first game that today’s Alcaraz has made big strides in the 10 months since that meeting, when the teen had still not cracked the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings.

Now World No. 19 and climbing higher by the week, Alcaraz came out firing. He launched groundstrokes without fear, overwhelming Nadal, who so often imposes his will physically on opponents. That helped the 18-year-old to an early break after he crushed a laser-like crosscourt backhand winner. He then saved five break points in the next game to consolidate it.

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But nobody bullies Nadal, which the 35-year-old proved throughout the rest of the set. As aggressive as Alcaraz was, he also made some untimely errors that put him under pressure. And once fourth-seeded Nadal worked his way into the match, he showed no intention of letting go.

The legendary lefty earned a jaw-dropping 17 break points in the opener, claiming three of them. Although Alcaraz showed his own grit and determination by saving most of those chances and getting back on serve after losing four consecutive games, he found himself on the back foot in games far too often. 

With Nadal’s high level and the disappointment for Alcaraz after losing the first set, it seemed the momentum was fully on the veteran’s side of the net. But the 18-year-old did well to stay in contact early in the set, and then the wind began to pick up.

If the first set was a heavyweight boxing match, the second set was fought on stilts. Through no fault of the players, they had to battle the wind as much they did each other. There were fewer jaw-dropping rallies in which the pair fired ball after ball from corner to corner. Now, they had to position themselves to avoid making too many mistakes and giving each other free points because of the gusts.

The critical game was at 4-4, which lasted just about 20 minutes. On his seventh break point of the game, Alcaraz hit an incredible lob that left Nadal helpless. He then served out the set to force a decider on Stadium 1.

Home favourite Fritz, who will play the winner, eliminated seventh seed Andrey Rublev in straight sets earlier in the day.

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