21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal heaped praise on teenager Carlos Alcaraz, saying his compatriot is already a top player and has a fantastic future in men’s singles. In a highly anticipated semi-final match at Indian Wells, Nadal defeated Alcaraz in a hard-fought 3-set bout to advance to another final in 2022.
Nadal extended his winning streak to 20-0 in 2022, reaching his fourth final on the tour after the ATP 250 event in Melbourne, the Australian Open and Acapulco.
Victory in the semifinals was not easy in the Californian desert as Nadal of Alcaraz, who is widely believed to dominate men’s singles in the future, had to work hard.
“I took it like another semi-final game. He’s not a young player who’s 100 years old and coming. He’s already a top player, so I treated it like that and played against one of the best players in the world.” ‘ Nadal said on Sunday.
“It doesn’t matter if he’s young or not, he’s a great guy, a great player and he has a fantastic future. I treated it like that, just trying to go on the pitch, do my best and all To take on challenges. I’m through and it was a very important win for me.”
20:0@Rafael Nadal keeps his winning streak alive after beating Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 4-6, 6-3
— ATP Tour (@atptour) March 20, 2022
Nadal will face Taylor Fritz in the men’s final on Monday in Indian Wells. If he wins the ultimate fight, he will equal Novak Djokovic’s record for most ATP Masters 1000 titles in history at 37.
Alcaraz caused excitement around the stadium when he broke the 21-time Grand Slam winner to open the match with a thundering backhand winner.
But Nadal would claim the final break to win an intriguing open set.
While Alcaraz efficiently converted his two break chances, Nadal kept the youngster under constant pressure with 17 break chances converting three.
In the second set, the two players battled each other and fierce winds blew papers, water bottles and towels across the court, with the chair umpire urging spectators to hold on to their belongings so play could continue.
As the wind died down in the third set, both players’ quality of play increased, with Nadal upping his game just a little more than his fearless teenage opponent in a quality last set.
Nadal, as he so often does, refused to give up as he recorded the crucial break to take a 5-4 lead, then held serve and raised his arms in triumph in front of a howling, admiring crowd.
Prior to that, Fritz had secured a place in his first Masters 1000 final with a 7-5, 6-4 win over seventh seed Andrey Rublev and will be looking to become the first American since Andre Agassi in 2001 to do so gets the trophy.