SF Preview: Alcaraz, Sinner Renew Rivalry In Indian Wells
Young guns Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner will write another chapter into their growing rivalry Saturday when they collide in the semi-finals at the BNP Paribas Open.
The 19-year-old Alcaraz, who blitzed Felix Auger-Aliassime in the quarter-finals, is chasing a double prize this weekend in Indian Wells. The Spaniard will return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time since January if he captures his third ATP Masters 1000 crown at the hard-court event.
However, he will have his work cut out against the 21-year-old Sinner, who enters the semi-final blockbuster off the back of a statement win against 2022 champion Taylor Fritz.
“I’m really happy to play against him again. Great battles,” Alcaraz said when previewing the match. “I enjoy the matches against him. I would say it’s going to be a really good match, for the fans as well, to watch that match. And for myself as well. I will try to show my best, to show my 100 per cent. Jannik is playing great. I’m going to enjoy that match.”
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Saturday’s clash in the California desert will be the fifth meeting between the former Next Gen ATP Finals champions. Locked at 2-2 in their ATP Head2Head series, Alcaraz will look to take confidence from their previous meeting, when he saved a match point in an epic five-set win at the 2022 US Open. The top seed went on to win the crown in New York and will be hoping history repeats itself this weekend.
Sinner is aiming to break new ground in Indian Wells where he chases his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown. The Italian, who advanced to his lone final at this level in Miami in 2021 (l. to Hurkacz), is currently No. 11 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. He will climb back into the Top 10 if defeats Alcaraz and will jump to No. 6 if he lifts the trophy, which would be a new career-high.
After capturing four tour-level titles in 2021, Sinner triumphed just once in 2022. The Italian has already equalled that mark this season, capturing the crown in Montpellier and has looked back to his best in Indian Wells, defeating Richard Gasquet, Adrian Mannarino and Stan Wawrinka in straight sets.
“I am in a much, much better position where I was one year ago,” Sinner said following the third Top 5 win of his career against Fritz. “We take care of quite everything. I also know my body better, when to practise or when maybe to only do the gym.
“Also mentally was tough last year, so this year I feel much, much better . I am in a good position right now, but I feel like we have so much work to do still.”
When Alcaraz and Sinner walk onto Stadium 1, fireworks will be expected. During their five-set quarter-final match at the US Open both men bludgeoned the ball with unrelenting force from the baseline and showed incredible speed and athleticism to repel each other’s attacks. In a thrilling match, Alcaraz outlasted Sinner 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3, saving one match point in the fourth set en route to his five-hour, 15-minute triumph. The battle was the second-longest match in US Open history, ending at 2:50 a.m.
The match in New York has been highlighted as the moment in which Alcaraz and Sinner stepped out of the shadow of the ‘Big Three’ era.
“Probably at the end of the match, I was [at] my end. It was really, really tough for me,” Alcaraz said following his win. “[But], during the whole match, five hours, 15 minutes of the match, I felt great physically. The level of tennis that we played, it was really, really high. But I felt great. The energy I received in this court at 3 a.m., it was unbelievable.”
Sinner also shared his reflections.
“I had some tough losses. This is in the top list,” Sinner said at the time. “I think this one will hurt for quite a while.”
Alcaraz also won their other hard-court clash at the Rolex Paris Masters in 2021. Sinner triumphed in four sets in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, before he defeated the Spaniard in the Umag final on clay last July.
The pair will look to live up to the hype once again on Saturday in a clash Alcaraz is relishing.
“I have to be really really focused in every shot. I have to play my best,” Alcaraz said. “That’s why Jannik is such a great player, as well. Not only with great serve, great movements, it is because he pushed the opponent to the limit. Trying to play aggressive with great shots. And to the opponent it is really tough to be focused, mentally and physically during the whole match.”
View Alcaraz and Sinner’s full ATP H2H series.