Alcaraz to face Sinner in Indian Wells semi-finals
Top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz edged Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-4, 6-4 on Thursday to book a semi-final meeting with Jannik Sinner at the WTA and ATP Masters 1000 at Indian Wells.
Alcaraz posted his first win over the 10th-ranked Canadian in four career meetings to keep his bid to regain the world number one ranking on track.
"Probably I played one of my best matches on this season, so I'm really happy," Alcaraz said.
Italy's Sinner reached the final four with a 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 victory over defending champion Taylor Fritz and now has a chance to avenge his loss to Alcaraz in a quarter-final thriller at the US Open last year.
That five-set battle lasted five hours and 15 minutes, its 2:50am finish the latest in US Open history. Alcaraz would go on to lift the trophy and become the youngest world number one in the history of the ATP rankings.
"I'm really happy to play against him again," Alcaraz said of facing Sinner. "Great battles."
Alcaraz has slipped behind Novak Djokovic in the rankings, but after injury delayed his 2023 season start to February the 19-year-old Spaniard has won one title at Buenos Aires and reached the final at Rio de Janeiro.
Alcaraz hadn't dropped a set in reaching the quarters, but Auger-Aliassime was the first top 10 player he has faced this year.
This time, Alcaraz was ready for him, saying his prior defeats to Auger-Aliassime had taught him to "stay there."
"The previous matches, in Davis Cup it was close, I had my chances," said Alcaraz, who last fell to the Canadian in Basel in October.
"In Basel I remember I give up a little bit. Today the goal of mine was to stay there. I knew that I was going to have my chances, (I) tried to take it."
The two-hour clash was a thrilling display of athleticism and shot making from both players.
Alcaraz saved the first break point he faced as he served out the first set, but after he broke to open the second Auger-Aliassime -- who saved six match points in a fourth-round win over Tommy Paul -- promptly broke back to set the tone for a tense back and forth battle.
Auger-Aliassime had already saved two break points in the 10th game when Alcaraz gave himself another with a backhand volley winner.
The seven-minute game ended with Auger-Aliassime sending a backhand wide and convincingly served it out, finishing off the match with yet another forehand winner.
"He has a big serve, really big first serve," said Alcaraz, who had never broken Auger-Aliassime's serve before. "I tried to attack the second serve, tried to dominate the point, tried to play from the baseline -- tried to be aggressive and take the opportunity when he is serving the second serve."