Friday February 23, 2024

Alcaraz to face Sinner, Swiatek gets Rybakina in semifinals

By Ag Afp
March 18, 2023

INDIAN WELLS: Top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz beat Felix Auger-Aliassime for the first time in his career to book a semi-final clash with Jannik Sinner at Indian Wells.

Women’s top seed Iga Swiatek lined up a last-four grudge match against Elena Rybakina, who stunned the Polish world number one in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open in January.

Alcaraz posted his first victory over Auger-Aliassime in four meetings with a 6-4, 6-4 win to keep his bid to regain the world number one ranking on track.

“It’s wonderful to beat Felix finally, and the way I did it, playing at a great level,” said Spain’s Alcaraz, 19, who called it perhaps his best match of the season.

Italy’s Sinner reached the final four with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over defending champion Taylor Fritz and now has a chance to avenge his loss to Alcaraz in an electrifying quarter-final at the US Open last year.

That five-set battle lasted five hours and 15 minutes, its 2:50am finish the latest in US Open history. Alcaraz would go on to lift the trophy and become the youngest world number one in the history of the ATP rankings.

“We’ve played several times and all the matches have been very tough,” Alcaraz said. “I like this kind of challenge, I’m going to enjoy it.”

Alcaraz hadn’t dropped a set in reaching the quarters, but Auger-Aliassime was the first top-10 player he has faced this year. This time, Alcaraz was ready for him, saying his prior defeats to the Canadian had taught him to “stay there.”

The two-hour clash was a thrilling display of athleticism and shot making from both players.

Alcaraz saved the first break point he faced as he served out the first set, but after he broke to open the second Auger-Aliassime -- who saved six match points in a fourth-round win over Tommy Paul -- promptly broke back to set the tone for a tense back and forth battle.