Saturday, March 18, 2023 - Carlos Alcaraz plays against Jannik Sinner in semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, California. (Kathryn Riley/BNP Paribas Open)
Carlos Alcaraz has won so often over the last year and a half that it’s easy to forget the fact that he’s still only a teenager. He won’t turn 20 until May, and he already has a Grand Slam title and two Masters 1000 trophies to his name.
He may add another one Sunday at the 2023 BNP Paribas Open.
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 19, 2023
It will be a matchup of the last two US Open champions and two of the best in the business when it comes to playing on hard courts.
“It [was] a great match,” Alcaraz said after claiming his victory over the 11th-seeded Italian in one hour and 52 minutes. “Jannik is a great player, and he pushes me to improve and makes me play at a high level – that’s why we play great matches. I’m really happy with the level that I played, and the way that I overcome the problem, I saved one set point in the first set, it was great.”
Compared to their last meeting, which lasted five hours and 15 minutes and ended at 2:50 AM at the 2022 US Open, Saturday’s clash of generational talents was relatively uncomplicated.
But it certainly had its moments.
After a trade of breaks, 21-year-old Sinner angled in for set point with Alcaraz serving at 5-6, but could not convert.
“I wanted to go crosscourt,” Sinner said of the opportunity. “But I was thinking maybe down the line was better, which was the wrong choice.”
The Spaniard forced a tiebreak, then reeled off four of the final points to take the set 7-6(4).
In the second set the Spanish teen dialed up his focus and powered to the finish.
He never faced a break point and took advantage of a dip in form from Sinner, who only made 48 percent of his first serves and 19 of 36 points on serve in the second set. That put him under constant pressure as he found himself down 3-0.
“I think the general match was high level match, but still I didn’t serve well today, which made the biggest difference, I think,” Sinner said. “The baseline rallies I felt okay, I had my chances, especially first set. But he played the important points better than me today, so he deserved to win.”
Sinner pushed back and kept the scoreline close, but Alcaraz would not be denied a spot in his first final in the California desert. He was never even taken to deuce in the set, and he closed the door on sinner with his 28th winner of the contest, against 14 unforced errors.
Alcaraz will next try to tackle Daniil Medvedev – he of the 19-match winning streak. He knows he’ll be in for his biggest challenge yet as he bids for his eighth career title, and a return to the top spot in the ATP rankings.
“He has a great winning streak, and it’s going to be a difficult challenge for me to play against him tomorrow,” Alcaraz said. “I really wanted to play against him – it was a long time ago that I played against him. I am going to enjoy the final because I really wanted to play a final here in front of all of you.”