Top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz defeated 11th-seeded Jannik Sinner 7-6(4), 6-3 in Saturday’s semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, California, putting him just one win away from No. 1 in the world rankings.
The 19-year-old Spaniard meets Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s final. Medvedev, fifth and sixth in the world rankings, bested American Frances Tiafoe in the other semifinal Saturday, winning a close battle 7-5, 7-6 (4).
World No. 2 Alcaraz worked the 21-year-old Sinner much faster than in their last match – last year’s historic US Open quarter-finals, which lasted five sets and 5 hours, 15 minutes and ended at 2:50 p.m Local time, the last finish in Open history.
But that doesn’t mean that Saturday’s game was easy for Alcaraz. After breaking Sinner’s serve to take a 4-2 lead in the opener, Alcaraz returned one to the Italian to level it at 4-4. Sinner had put in a point on Alcaraz’ serve while leading 6-5, but Alcaraz forced Deuce before winning the game and then the tiebreak.
“Playing against Jannik is never easy. I had to overcome a few problems. I lost a set point,” Alcaraz said of the first set. “I knew I had to raise my level to Jannik (hit). It was a very close first set. In the second set I let all my nerves out and played more relaxed. I think that was the key to everything.”
According to the ATP Tour, Alcaraz will not only play for No. 1 on Sunday but also aim to become just the second player with three ATP Masters 1000 titles as a teenager, joining fellow countryman Rafael Nadal. Alcaraz already has titles in Madrid and Miami.
As for his opponent, Medvedev goes into the finals with one shot, winning his last 19 games and three tournaments in which he has participated. His first final will be held in Indian Wells on Sunday.
Like Alcaraz, Medvedev had a much bigger fight than a straight-set win would otherwise suggest. The 27-year-old and former world No. 1 faltered with seven match points and lost serve twice before finally knocking out 25-year-old Tiafoe.
“In the end it was crazy,” said Medvedev. “I got super tight. I would say that (after) 6-5, 40-0 I think I got tight at Deuce when I thought ‘oh my god that’s a lot of missed chances, that couldn’t go well for me’.
“So I got very tight, (but) I still managed to keep playing well. … The ace (on match point) was a relief, I’m just really happy I made it, this match isn’t to lose.”
Medvedev has titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai in his current run.
“I’m playing better and better, I would say,” said Medvedev, who twisted his ankle and cut his thumb in the quarters in the fourth round. “When I twisted my ankle, I started playing better on this pitch!”
Alcaraz and Medvedev have met before, a straight-set win by Medvedev at Wimbledon in 2021.