Carlos Alcaraz set up his second career meeting with Rafael Nadal with a high-quality and intense 6-4, 6-3 win over Cameron Norrie in the Indian Wells quarter-finals on Thursday night.
Already the youngest BNP Paribas Open men’s quarter-finalist since a 17-year-old Michael Chang in 1989, Alcaraz is now the second-youngest semi-finalist in tournament history behind only Andre Agassi, also 17, in 1988.
The 18th-seeded Spaniard hit 31 winners to just 14 unforced errors to knock off the in-form Briton, who was a plus-eight in the winners to errors count himself. A cleanly played and tightly contested matchup saw 10 breaks of serve and five in each set, with Alcaraz falling behind early in both.
“It’s so special to be able to play my first semi-final in a Masters1000 here in Indian Wells, in Tennis Paradise,” Alcaraz said post-match. “I’m enjoying every single second. I have no words to describe my feelings right now.”
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After twice trailing by a break in the opener, the 18-year-old won the last three games and pocketed the set by taking his third break point in a five-deuce game – the longest of the night.
Alcaraz again erased Norrie’s strong start in set two as he broke in each of his last three return games before serving out the match to love. On the whole, Alcaraz broke six times in nine return games.
– Tennis TV (@TennisTV) March 18, 2022
He has now earned a rematch against Nadal, after his compatriot won their first ATP Head2Head meeting, 6-1, 6-2, in Madrid last spring.
That first meeting came on Alcaraz’s 18th birthday on the Spanish clay. Now on the American hard courts, the youngster feels ready to give the 36-time Masters 1000 champion a bigger challenge.
“I remember that I played really, really nervous,” he said of the Madrid matchup. “I think this time I trained with him a couple of times, I know more how to play against him. I think now it’s going to be a little bit different this match. Obviously he can destroy me again, but I don’t know what is going to happen. “
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Photo Credit: Peter Staples / ATP Tour
Alcaraz and Nadal are a combined 31-1 in 2022, with Alcaraz at 12-1 and Nadal a perfect 19-0. The younger Spaniard won the Rio de Janeiro title in February, while Nadal has won three tour-level titles on the year, including the Australian Open.
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When both men reaching the Indian Wells quarter-finals, it gave Spain multiple men at that stage of the BNP Paribas Open for the first time since 2015, when Nadal and Feliciano Lopez lost in the last eight. Alcaraz and Nadal are the first Spanish pair to reach the Indian Wells semi-finals in the tournament’s 46-year history.
“It’s tough to play against Rafa but at the same time I will enjoy the moment, I will enjoy the match,” Alcaraz previewed. “It’s not every day you play against your idol. I’m going to be happy even if I lose that match. But I’m focused right now to play my best against Rafa and be able to take my chances.”