Teenager Alcaraz sets up Indian Wells semifinal against Nadal

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World No. 19 Carlos Alcaraz secured a high-quality and intense 6-4, 6-3 victory over Cameron Norrie of the United Kingdom to set up an all-Spanish semifinal against Rafael Nadal for the first time in the history of BNP Paribas Open on Friday (IST).

This will be Alcaraz’s second career meeting with world No. 4 and winner of 21 Grand Slams Nadal.

Already the youngest BNP Paribas Open men’s quarterfinalist since a 17-year-old Michael Chang in 1989, Alcaraz is now the second-youngest semifinalist in tournament history behind only American Andre Agassi, also 17, in 1988, according to atptour.com.

Alcaraz, seeded 18th here, hit 31 winners to just 14 unforced errors to knock off the in-form Briton.

“It’s so special to be able to play my first semifinal in a Masters1000 here in Indian Wells, in Tennis Paradise,” Alcaraz said. “I’m enjoying every single second. I have no words to describe my feelings right now.”

Nadal overcame a gritty comeback attempt from Australian Nick Kyrgios 7-6(0), 5-7, 6-4 to secure a last-four berth. Nadal has extended his perfect season to 19-0 and improves his ATP head-to-head record against Kyrgios to 6-3, including wins in their past three meetings. A three-time champion in Indian Wells, Nadal returns to the semifinals for the 11th time.

Alcaraz, 18, said he feels ready to give the 36-time Masters 1000 champion Nadal a tough challenge in the semis.

“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,” said Alcaraz elaborating on their previous meeting where Nadal won 6-1, 6-2 in Madrid last spring.

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, including the Australian Open.

Alcaraz and Nadal are the first Spanish pair to reach the Indian Wells semifinals in the event’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 said. “It’s not every day you play against your idol. I’m going to be happy even if I lose that match. But I am focused right now to play my best against Rafa and be able to take my chances.”

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