Indian Wells Alcaraz returns to semifinals, defending champion Fritz bows out

Indian Wells (USA), March 17 : Top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz of Spain surged past Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-4, 6-4 to book his spot in the Indian Wells Masters semifinals for the second consecutive season. Alcaraz continued to gain steam in his bid for a maiden Indian Wells title as he marched to his first victory in four tries against the 10th-ranked Canadian. "Today, the goal was to stay there. I knew that I was going to have my chances. I had to try to take it. Probably I played one of my best matches this season, in 2023. I'm really happy and want to keep going," Alcaraz was quoted as saying by the ATP Tour. In his last meeting with Auger-Aliassime, Alcaraz only saw one break point and wasn't able to convert. He flipped the script on that narrative on Thursday, earning 12 break points and converting three to keep his 22-year-old rival at bay. The Spaniard won 30 percent of his first-serve return points and 58 percent of his second-serve return points and saved three of the four break points he faced to come through a close contest in two hours. The victory, Alcaraz first against a Top 10 opponent since he beat Casper Ruud in the US Open final, moved him within two wins of a return to the top of the ATP Rankings. The 19-year-old Alcaraz, who is now 13-9 against Top 10 opposition, is seeking to become the second man to win at least three ATP Masters as a teen, having won Miami and Madrid last year. His countryman Rafael Nadal won six. He will next meet Jannik Sinner, the pair's fifth meeting and the first since their epic meeting in New York, in which he saved a match point to win the second-longest match in US Open history. Earlier, the 21-year-old Sinner made history for Italy with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 takedown of defending champion Taylor Fritz, stopping the American's nine-match winning streak at Indian Wells and reaching the final four at a Masters 1000 for the second time. Sinner and Alcaraz have split their four previous meetings, with the Spaniard winning their two hard-court meetings. /IANS


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