Rafa Nadal does not give his arm to twist. At 35 years old, close to 36, he is reluctant to hand over the witness to anyone, not even a compatriot who is called, and this Saturday he showed it, to be his successor: Carlos Alcaraz. The Balearic beat the 18-year-old from Murcia in three sets, two wonderful and one, the second, tarnished by the wind (6-4, 4-6 and 6-3 in three hours and 12 minutes). He will play the Indian Wells final for the fifth time on Sunday (23:00, #Vamos)against the American Taylor Fritz (1-0 dominates him in the head-to-head). The first semifinal between Spaniards in the 46-year history of the tournament did not disappoint. The ATP had described it as “a clash between the present and the future of Spanish tennis and perhaps the circuit.” The two gave a shocking example of class, quality, effort, behavior and greatness 17 years apart.
“He played very well at the beginning and it was difficult to stop him because of his amazing shots. Then it’s not that I had control, because you couldn’t in those conditions. and we couldn’t enjoy it because of the interruptions, but in the third I was better, more aggressive, because I couldn’t leave the game in his hands. Being in the final means a lot to me“, analyzed Nadal, who continues unstoppable with a 20-0his best start to the season and the seventh-best winning streak of his career. He may be the tournament’s oldest champion, overtaking Federer, who won aged 35 but fewer months in 2017. And, by the way, tie at 37 Masters 1,000 titles with Djokovic. In addition, he returns to the ranking podium, he is third ahead of Zverev.
Giron (Aus Open)
Korda (Indian Wells)
— Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 20, 2022
Alcaraz came out to bite in the first set and broke Nadal’s serve from the start. Although later he suffered a lot to put the 2-0 on the scoreboard and had a hard time in all his services. In fact, the man from Manaco had 17 break options and Carlos managed to save 14. The other three gave the 21-time Grand Slam winner an advantage, who dropped another serve along the way due to a couple of misses. The good thing for him and the bad thing for his rival is that with some big mistakes that he does not usually make, he took the initial set in ten games with an 79% of firsts and only nine unforced errors, against the 23 of the El Palmar prodigy.
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gone With the Wind
Alcaraz had planned the game well, armed with his increasingly powerful backhand, throwing high balls at some point. It was not, at all, like the one in Madrid last year (they lost it 6-1 and 6-2). However, the schemes were ruined by the great reading of the matches that Nadal always does and by an element against which he could do nothing, the wind. It blew so hard (with gusts of 37 Km/h) that it blew away papers, flags, towels, t-shirts and even some awnings. He was about to also knock down the bottles placed to the millimeter by the two players, who share that mania. And in those circumstances, normally, experience is essential. Rafa has played dozens of games in these conditions and he knows how to handle them with the skill of a golfer. Wrapping up the blows with his left-handed topspin drive, he achieved effects that were very difficult to respond to. Nevertheless…
The inclement wind marred the game and the chances of breakage disappeared, although not for long, until Alcaraz got one at 2-2, who adjusted his shots and took advantage of the difficulties that not even Nadal could solve to take advantage. As he had passed in the first set, he reacted quickly and won a decisive point by rolling his sleeves to equalize (3-3). Then he gave up another serve. It was very difficult for both of them to string together plays, especially against the wind, and breaks followed one another. The chair umpire, the Spanish Nacho Forcadell, even considered stopping the match at the request of the tennis players, but he continued and the attitude of both was impeccable, beyond some complaint as logical as it was timid. Nadal, who spoke to the tournament supervisor, saved six break balls at 4-4 in a fantastic game, but could not with the seventh. Limit situation that he no longer managed to save. Disappointment for him, high for Alcaraz and a party in the stands due to the extension of the clash.
The wind died down little by little. Enough to allow the show to rise and order to return. Anything could happen. The fight was already fierce, with winners of all kinds (one of Alcaraz was at 164 km / h), unattainable defenses and counterattacks for almost any tennis player and a physical display that he did not understand ages. It was difficult for the Balearic Islands to get ahead at 3-2 and the Murcian was very solid on serve. Rafa amazed by his performance at the net after three hours of play. And that with punctures in the chest area and highlights on the back. A ‘hug’ from her physio put him back into orbit. The fight seemed to have no end until Nadal gave his chest, forgive the redundancy, to get 5-3 and serve. He did not forgive and extends his hegemony in Spain (he has 25 wins in a row against tennis players from the Navy) and throughout the world. There is no one to stop him.
Indian Wells Masters 1,000 results.