It’s time to wrap up the quarterfinals at the 2023 BNP Paribas Open! The top half of the men’s draw will settle on its semifinalists on Thursday in Stadium 1 as defending champion Taylor Fritz battles rising Italian Jannik Sinner, while top seed Carlos Alcaraz takes on Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime in the night session.
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For the first time in the 47-year history of the BNP Paribas Open, an Italian man has broken through and reached the semifinals.
21-year-old Jannik Sinner made history for his country with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 takedown of defending champion Taylor Fritz, stopping the Southern California native’s nine-match winning streak at Indian Wells and reaching the final four at a Masters 1000 for the second time.
Sinner will face top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz, who edged Felix Auger-Aliassime in the night session, in Saturday’s semifinals.
“It means a lot, obviously,” Sinner told the crowd after notching his third career Top 5 win over the No. 4 seed. “Playing against Taylor is never easy. Especially because he won here last year – I knew the match was going to be tough.”
The moment @janniksin took out the defending champ 😮#TennisParadise pic.twitter.com/iWGTvgcb8D
— BNP Paribas Open (@BNPPARIBASOPEN) March 17, 2023
It was a classic no-holds-barred shootout from start to finish, with both players pummeling fizzing groundstrokes from both wings off the baseline.
At the end of the two hour and 17-minute pressure cooker the scoreboard showed that Sinner had a smidgen more firepower on the day. The Italian cracked 32 winners against 17 unforced errors; Fritz hit 25 winners against 17 unforced errors.
The rising No.11 seed also came out better from the service stripe, winning 80 percent of his first serve points compared to 70 percent for Fritz, and the net, where he was efficient when he he made his forays and won 15 of 18 from in close.
Fritz told reporters that the third set was tricky for both players, and said that he felt Sinner handled the windy conditions better down the stretch.
“I’d say the two games that I got broken in the third, I just didn’t really feel like I could do much in the points,” Fritz said. “I had to just kind of like hope that he’d get a miss, just because of how strong the wind was in my face.
“I thought when I was against the wind doing that and I couldn’t really hurt him, he was doing a really good job on the side with the wind of just attacking me and not giving me free points.”
Sinner said that one of the key to his victory was making a mid-match adjustment against Fritz’s serve. He told reporters that he stepped in and tried to take the ball earlier to throw off the American’s rhythm.
“I moved a little bit in, especially on the deuce side,” he said. “But only on first serve, because I felt like I didn’t have any chance to see the ball toss or where he was serving. So I tried at least to, you know, if the ball is there, to catch it as soon as possible to give him less time.”
Fritz didn’t give up the crown easy against the electric youngster. After dropping the opening set he rallied in the second, breaking in the tenth game as he struck a beautiful forehand pass on set point.
In the third set, with winds picking up inside Stadium 1, the American rallied from a break down, then saved three break points to hold for 2-1, and another to hold for 4-3.
Serving at 4-4, he couldn’t stop Sinner as the Italian notched his third break of the evening.
Sinner promptly served out the contest at love to book make his win official.
“It was very tough,” Sinner said. “We both play quite similar. For both of us the service games were very important, then the wind came a little bit. It was tough, I changed the little bit the position of the return, and obviously I’m very happy with how I ended the match.”
Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner will renew their blossoming rivalry on Saturday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
Hours after Sinner finished off Fritz, top-seeded Alcaraz surged past Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-4, 6-4, too book his spot in the BNP Paribas Open semifinals for the second consecutive season.
The 19-year-old sensation thrilled with his shotmaking prowess, providing the enthusiastic night session crowd with several shots for the highlight reel, as he marched to his first victory in four tries against the 10th-ranked Canadian.
In his last match with Auger-Aliassime, Alcaraz only saw one break point and wasn’t able to convert. He flipped the script on that narrative on Thursday evening, earning 12 break points and converting three to keep his 22-year-old rival at bay.
Alcaraz 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.
Alcaraz on facing Sinner next 🎤
"I am happy to play against him again. It's gonna be a really good match for the fans to see and I'm looking forward to the match." pic.twitter.com/uQL7kecS8x
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 17, 2023
He will face Sinner for the fifth time, and for the first time since their epic meeting in New York, in which he saved a match point to win the second-longest match in US Open history, at five hours and 15 minutes. The epic contest also claims the honor of being the latest finish for a match in US Open history at 2:50 AM.
Sinner and Alcaraz have split their four previous meetings, with Alcaraz winning their two hard court meetings.