Carlos Alcaraz will play the Indian Wells final this Sunday against the Russian Daniil Medvedev after defeating the Italian Jannik Sinner this Saturday, who made things very difficult for him in the first set and who succumbed in the second set to the imposing power of the Spanish.
Alcaraz, 19, defeated Sinner, 21, in the semifinal 7-6(4) and 6-3 in one hour and 52 minutes to qualify for the final of the first Masters 1000 of the season. After losing in 2022 in the Indian Wells semifinals against Rafa Nadal, Alcaraz will not only have the option of being crowned in the Californian desert but, with a victory, he will also regain the world number one, now held by Serbian Novak Djokovic.
A formidable challenge now appears on his way: a Medvedev in a state of grace who defeated the American Frances Tiafoe in the semifinals (7-5 and 6-4) and who has won 19 games in a row and won three consecutive tournaments (Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai). But the Murcian, who has only played against Medvedev once (a loss at Wimbledon two years ago), is already used to the big lights and dazzling in the most demanding moments.
Alcaraz arrived in California with doubts due to the hamstring injury he suffered in the final in Rio de Janeiro. However, the youngster has shown a magnificent competitive spirit and great reaction capacity, reaching the final without losing a single set in this edition of Indian Wells. If he were to win the so-called fifth Grand Slam, Alcaraz would join Rafa Nadal as the second player in history to win three Masters 1000s before his 20th birthday (Nadal won 6 and Alcaraz has already triumphed in Miami and Madrid).
On a practically full central court and with some Spanish flags between the stands, Alcaraz faced a Sinner also called to lead the new generation of tennis players and with whom he has already signed some sensational duels in the past. "It was a great game. Jannik is a great player. He pushes me to improve, makes me play at my highest level. That's why we played great games," Alcaraz said on the court as soon as the match ended.
Number 13 in the world ranking and with 2-2 in his four previous meetings against Alcaraz, Sinner had surpassed him in 2022 in the Umag final and eliminated him in the round of 16 at Wimbledon. However, in the quarterfinals of the US Open, Sinner bowed to Alcaraz after an exciting match that lasted more than five hours and ended at three in the morning in New York.
The Murcian warned in the preview that "the most dangerous thing" about Sinner is the pressure and aggressiveness of his shots, which turn each rally into a very difficult challenge. Alcaraz was very fine in defining him since Sinner started the game by shooting very hard and without rationing efforts. The Spaniard was not far behind, also very confident at the beginning, and both players kept their first serves with relative ease.
The first moment of tension for Sinner came with a double fault that gave rise to the first break point for Alcaraz (30-40 and 2-2), but he took a direct kick out of his sleeve to come out on top. However, the Italian stumbled again with another double fault and, with a reverse to the net, allowed the first break for the Spaniard (3-2).
Alcaraz's joy did not last long, as he made several errors in a row and lost serve shortly after with a scoreless game (4-4). Both players increased their performance in several vibrant rallies with masterful forehands, very hard shots and services such as cannon shots.
With the match marked by an intense equality, Sinner had a set point to the rest after a couple of mistakes by Alcaraz, but the one from El Palmar saved it going up to the net and sent the first set to the tie break. There he ended up raising Alcaraz's arms, finer in the key moments of a set that either of them could have taken and which he finished off with a brilliant backhand across the line.
The victory in the first set gave Alcaraz an important moral boost, who began to play looser, more comfortable, more fluid. Thus, Juan Carlos Ferrero's pupil broke Sinner's serve in his first turn of the second set and began to alternate in an excellent way delicious left shots, sharp forehands like stingers and also some balloons fallen from the sky at the precise moment. In fact, it was one of those perfect lobs that culminated a wonderful rally with which Alcaraz went up 3-0, leaving the Indian Wells crowd with their mouths open.
Sinner did not throw in the towel until the end but finally gave in to an Alcaraz who closed the match with great confidence and who is now only one step away from glory in Indian Wells and number one in the world.