Alcaraz On Brink Of No. 1 After Sinner SF Win In Indian Wells | ATP Tour
In the latest installment of a rivalry that could define the ATP Tour for the next decade, Carlos Alcaraz edged Jannik Sinner to break new ground at the BNP Paribas Open and move within one victory of a return to the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
After Saturday’s 7-6(4), 6-3 triumph — in which he saved a set point in the opening set — the Spaniard will play his first Indian Wells final against Daniil Medvedev, knowing a win would secure his return to World No. 1.
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The blockbuster semi-final was the fifth ATP Head2Head meeting between Alcaraz and Sinner, and the first since their marathon US Open quarter-final that set a record for latest New York finish at 2:50 a.m. The Spaniard won their desert showdown in a brisk-by-comparison one hour, 52 minutes to improve to 3-2 in the budding rivalry.
The bulk of the drama came in a back-and-forth opening set as Sinner took full advantage of a dip in level from his opponent to turn a 2-4 deficit into a 5-4 lead, winning 11 straight points in the process. Sinner kept the pressure on to create a set point at 6-5, but a uniquely Alcaraz combination — big serve, drop shot, volley winner — erased the chance and ensured the set would be decided in a tie-break.
Encouraged by his escape, the Spaniard powered through the tie-break, a pair of backhand blasts on set point sealing the deal.
Alcaraz expertly carried that momentum into set two, when he consolidated an early break with a point-of-the-season contender, planting a topspin lob on the baseline after a Sinner dipper forced him to retreat from the net.
He later wriggled out of 0/30 to hold for 5-2, and served out the match with ease behind a pair of punishing forehand winners.
Champion in Miami last season, Alcaraz will bid to become the youngest man to win both legs of the Sunshine Double on Sunday. Also the reigning titlist in Madrid, the 19-year-old is seeking to join countryman Rafael Nadal as the only man to win at least three ATP Masters 1000 titles as a teen (Nadal won six). Alcaraz is 2-0 in his previous finals at that prestigious level.
The Spaniard has reached the final in all three of his 2023 events, with a win in Buenos Aires and a defeat in Rio de Janeiro, both against Cameron Norrie.