(Indian Wells) Carlos Alcaraz, world No. 2, qualified for the Indian Wells Masters 1000 final, beating with authority 7-6 (7/4), 6-3 the Italian Jannik Sinner (13e), Saturday in California.
The 19-year-old Spaniard can return to the ATP throne if he wins the title on Sunday, but he will have to beat Russian Daniil Medvedev (6e), earlier scorer 7-5, 7-6 (7/4) of American Frances Tiafoe (16e).
This final duel, in the Californian desert, between the last two winners of the United States Open, was expected in the absence of Novak Djokovic, prevented from entering the United States because he was not vaccinated. And he looks very undecided, as the two players have been in resplendent form for several weeks.
“I am an ambitious man. I want to play against the best players in the world. Because to be the best, you have to beat the best. And I would say Daniil is the best player right now. Beating him will be a tough challenge, but I’m ready. I will give the best of myself in the final”, anticipated Alcaraz.
Medvedev, with 19 consecutive victories, is seeking a fourth title in a row after those won in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai in February. After a 2022 season inside, his level of play is approaching that which allowed him to triumph at Flushing Meadows in 2021.
Alcaraz, who succeeded him on the charts in New York, had to recover from a thigh injury contracted in January. Since then he won in Buenos Aires and only gave in in the final in Rio De Janeiro against the Briton Cameron Norrie.
“More relaxed” at 2e some
It is clear that in Indian Wells, where he advances by one box, since he was stopped in the semi-finals last year by Rafael Nadal, his rise in power is affirmed with each match.
His reunion with Sinner, six months after their Homeric duel which had turned in his favor in the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows, after 5:15 am of an exceptional fight, attested to this.
Because the Italian, who was also in good shape, in the wake of a title won in Montpellier, before a final lost in Rotterdam in February, this time only tied the game in the first round.
He may regret this missed set point at 6-5, because Alcaraz then seemed somewhat feverish. But the latter quickly tightened the bolts in the tiebreaker, returning each ball with his “Iberian-speed” races. On one of them, Sinner hesitated and made a mistake, giving his rival an opportunity he did not miss, with a big cross backhand.
“I knew I had to raise my level to pass Jannik. It was very tight in the first run. In the second, I calmed my nerves, I played in a more relaxed way, that was the key to everything,” he explained.
At the start of the second round, the prodigy from Murcia indeed delighted the service of the Italian, again at the cost of an exceptional defense, punctuated by a full-line lob, under the expert eyes of the legendary Rod Laver and those thrilled singer P!nk and actress Charlize Theron.
Alcaraz, who was also the most enterprising and the sharpest in this meeting (28 winning moves to 15) then never hesitated to maintain this advantage, without conceding the slightest break point to his opponent, closing the deal in 1:52 from a huge forehand slap.