Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz met for the second time in Indian Wells last year. Two great rivals produced a thriller in the semi-final, receiving praise from the entire tennis world. Like many others, the legendary Billie Jean King was impressed by what she saw in the desert.
Two Spaniards stole the show on Saturday. They battled against each other and windy conditions to deliver one of the most thrilling encounters of 2022. Competing in his first Masters 1000 semi-final, an 18-year-old Alcaraz left everything on the court against his childhood idol before suffering a 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 loss in three hours and 12 minutes!
Nadal won only two points more than Alcaraz and seized six breaks from no less than 21 opportunities. A teenager delivered five breaks from 14 chances, which was not enough to score a victory. Rafa and Carlos gave their best in harsh windy conditions, especially in the second set.
They produced impressive shotmaking and kept the crowd entertained from start to finish. The rivals stayed neck and neck in the shortest and more advanced rallies, and Rafa won only two points more than Carlos. The more experienced Spaniard played on a higher level in the closing stages.
He survived a challenging service game and grabbed the crucial break that sent him into the final. Showing no nerves, Carlos broke in the encounter’s first game and fended off five break chances in the next one for a promising start.
Nadal pushed into a higher gear and rattled off four straight games. He broke Alcaraz in games four and six to forge a 4-2 advantage and settle into a fine rhythm. A teenager pulled a break back in game seven and fended off four break points in the next one to lock the result at 4-4.
Staying composed, Nadal converted the fifth set point in game ten for 6-4 after grueling 66 minutes.
Billie Jean King praised Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz following their epic clash.
The wind prevented them from producing their best in set number two, and there were five consecutive breaks of serve.
Alcaraz scored three and opened a 5-4 gap with a perfect lob winner after a 20-minute battle! A teenager held after deuce in game ten to wrap up the set and introduce a decider after grueling two hours and 21 minutes. Still giving their best, the two rivals barely lost a point behind the initial shot at the start of the final set.
After saving three break chances, Rafa made a crucial hold in game five and held after deuce at 3-3 to keep the pressure on the other side. Nadal secured a break at 4-3 with a volley winner and fired a service winner in game nine to emerge at the top and advance into the 53rd Masters 1000 final.
“Thinking about Rafael Nadal vs. Carlos Alcaraz clash, I realize it’s one of the best matches I have ever seen. They battled for over three hours in tough conditions, and I tip my hat to both. Nadal loves and respects our sport, while Carlos is a future No 1. What a great day for tennis,” Billie Jean King said.