Friday, March 31, 2023

Indian Wells: Alcaraz returns to semis

Top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz of Spain surged past Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-4, 6-4 to book his spot in the Indian Wells Masters semifinals for the second consecutive season.
Alcaraz continued to gain steam in his bid for a maiden Indian Wells title as he marched to his first victory in four tries against the 10th-ranked Canadian.
In his last meeting with Auger-Aliassime, Alcaraz only saw one break point and wasn’t able to convert. He flipped the script on that narrative on Thursday, earning 12 break points and converting three to keep his 22-year-old rival at bay.
The Spaniard won 30 percent of his first-serve return points and 58 percent of his second-serve return points and saved three of the four break points he faced to come through a close contest in two hours.
The victory, Alcaraz first against a Top 10 opponent since he beat Casper Ruud in the US Open final, moved him within two wins of a return to the top of the ATP Rankings.
The 19-year-old Alcaraz, who is now 13-9 against Top 10 opposition, is seeking to become the second man to win at least three ATP Masters as a teen, having won Miami and Madrid last year. His countryman Rafael Nadal won six.
He will next meet Jannik Sinner, the pair’s fifth meeting and the first since their epic meeting in New York, in which he saved a match point to win the second-longest match in US Open history.

Swiatek sails into second consecutive semifinal, to face Rybakina
Defending champion Iga Swiatek’s title defense at the Indian Wells Masters remains on track after the World No.1 posted her 16th straight-sets win of the season to defeat Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-2, 6-3 and returned to the semifinals of the Masters 1000, here. The victory on Thursday extended Swiatek’s head-to-head record over the Romanian to 2-0. Into her third consecutive semifinal, the Pole has yet to lose a set during this fortnight. She has now won 10 consecutive matches at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
The 21-year-old Swiatek improved to 16-3 on the season and 12-1 lifetime at Indian Wells, as she set up a clash with Elena Rybakina, who sent her packing from 2023’s first Grand Slam. The duel will be a rematch of their Round of 16 clash at the Australian Open in January, which Rybakina won 6-4, 6-4.
Rybakina advanced to her first WTA 1000 semifinal after a tough three-set win over Czech player Karolina Muchova.

Iga Swiatek

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