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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday March 18, 2023

Carlos Alcaraz

Carlos Alcaraz defeated Jannik Sinner in straight sets in the latest edition of the pair's budding rivalry at Indian Wells.

Photo Source: Getty

When Carlos Alcaraz reached the semifinals and pushed his idol and rival Rafael Nadal to a third set at the BNP Paribas Open, it became instantly obvious that the conditions at Indian Wells could suit his game to a tee.

Tennis Express

This year he has taken the next step, rifling through five round without dropping a single set, and will play for the title on Sunday against Daniil Medvedev.

The Spaniard is a fast learner and a lethal talent, and he demonstrated his level on Saturday as he confidently raced past his rival Jannik Sinner on Stadium 1, 7-6(4), 6-3. Make that three finals in his first three tournaments of 2023 – Alcaraz hasn’t skipped a beat since he made his 2023 debut in Buenos Aires, and here he is angling for his third Masters 1000 title after his latest convincing performance.

Medvedev, who defeated Frances Tiafoe in Saturday’s first semifinal, 7-5, 7-6(4), is duly impressed.

“He's amazing,’ Medvedev said of the 19-year-old. “He has amazing skills which are tough to compare to everyone, I would think maybe to Rafa, but it's tough to compare because Rafa is lefty, so you cannot really compare their ball. Once he hits through the forehand, it's amazing to watch. I don't think there is anyone who can hit this strong and also with topspin.

“That's why he was No. 1 in the world, youngest No. 1 in the history. That means something. It's gonna be great and fun to play against him.”

The Russian defeated Alcaraz in their only previous meeting, at Wimbledon in 2021. Both spoke about that match in their post-match press conference, and both agree that Medvedev’s straight set win really doesn’t matter anymore.

“For sure it counts in head to head and it has to count,” Medvedev said. “That's how tennis works. I also have my matches which I lost when I was not at the top, but he was definitely not the same player as he is right now.”

Alcaraz feels similarly.

“When I played against him he was No. 2 in the world,” Alcaraz said. “I just started to play on the tour, so I was not an experienced player. For me, was a strange match.

“Right now is totally different. I'm an experienced guy, or at least I'm more experienced [than I was in] that match. I know how to play against him. I practice with him a few times, as well, so it is not new thing for me right now. So it's gonna be, I think, a totally different match.”

Alcaraz’s fifth meeting with Sinner was also different than their previous meeting. He won for the third time in a row against the talented Italian, saving a set point in the opening set and controlling the second, as Sinner had a difficult day from the service stripe.

“I think the general match was high-level match, but still I didn’t serve well today, which made the biggest difference, I think,” Sinner said. “The baseline rallies I felt okay, I had my chances, especially first set."

Alcaraz will look to keep his momentum going on Sunday, and if he is successful, he will return to the top of the ATP rankings.

Medvedev, meanwhile, has been a pleasant surprise at Indian Wells. He has gradually made his peace with the slow-playing hard courts in play at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, and overcome the ankle injury that nearly took him out of his round of 16 match with Alexander Zverev. It has been impressive to watch the No.5 seed work the open spaces of the court from his deep defensive position. It is not easy to hit a winner against him, that’s for sure.

“He's a wall,” Alcaraz said on Saturday. “He return every ball, impossible shots.”

Knowing the Spaniard he’s spending his evening devising ways to break down the wall.


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