Indian Wells Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal Plays Fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the Semifinals - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Daily Preview: Rafael Nadal Plays Fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz in the Semifinals

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Carlos Alcaraz on Thursday evening at Indian Wells (twitter.com/bnpparibasopen)

A generational clash of Spain’s best two ATP players is set for Saturday in tennis paradise.  35-year-old Rafael Nadal faces 18-year-old standout Carlos Alcaraz, who has looked up to Nadal from a very young age.  Will Rafa reassert his standing as Spain’s top player by extending his 2022 undefeated streak to 20-0?  Or will the surging teenager upset the all-time great, in what one day could be looked back on a passing-of-the-torch moment?

Saturday’s other ATP singles semifinal sees Andrey Rublev, who is into his third semifinal at US Masters 1000 events within the past year, take on American Taylor Fritz, who is into his second consecutive semifinal at Indian Wells.  And both the men’s and women’s doubles champions will be decided.


Andrey Rublev (7) vs. Taylor Fritz (20) – Not Before 1:00pm on Stadium 1

Their head-to-head is even at 2-2, which consists of two matches in 2018 and two last year.  They first met four years ago at this event, with Fritz prevailing in straight sets.  Taylor also took their most recent clash in straights, this past November in Bercy.  The 24-year-old American is 12-4 on the year, and achieved a significant milestone by advancing to the second week of a Major for the first time in Melbourne.  He’s played three consecutive three-setters this week, with two of those victories decided by a third-set tiebreak.  Rublev is an outstanding 18-2 in 2022.  He’s currently on a 13-match win streak, coming off back-to-back titles in Marseille and Dubai.  He’s reached this semifinal much more comfortably than Fritz, without dropping a set.  Andrey’s superior resume, and the momentum he carries into this match, make him the favorite.  But based on their history, as well as how Taylor has lifted his game in front of the American audience in his home state of California, Fritz has a significant chance to pull off the upset.


Rafael Nadal (4) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (19) – Following the First Semifinal on Stadium 1

They have met once before, last year at Spain’s biggest event, the Madrid Masters.  On that day, Nadal easily defeated of Alcaraz, who was a wild card ranked 120th in the world.  But Carlos has progressed rapidly since that time.  Last summer, he captured his first ATP title in Umag, and made a scintillating run to the US Open quarterfinals, which included an upset of Stefanos Tsitsipas in a fifth-set tiebreak.  Alcaraz has now won 17 of his last 18 matches, with two further titles claimed (NextGen Finals, Rio).  And he hasn’t dropped a set in his last seven matches.  At the end of Carlos’ victory over defending champion Cam Norrie in the quarterfinals, Tennis Channel’s Jim Courier said it’s hard to find a weakness in the Alcaraz game.  And as Norrie himself later admitted, Alcaraz is one of the speediest players in the world, with amazing court coverage.  So how will the 18-year-old perform 10 months later in a rematch against his idol?  Nadal hasn’t been at his best this fortnight, yet he’s grinded and found ways to win regardless.  But I think Alcaraz is ready for this moment.  And considering Rafa’s ongoing left foot issues, it feels like an upset is entirely possible.


Other Notable Matches on Saturday:

Asia Muhammad and Ena Shibahara (7) vs. Yifan Xu and Zhaoxuan Yang – As per the WTA, Muhammad has now won 27 straight matches between singles and doubles at all levels.  Her and Shibahara took out two of the top five seeds to reach this final.  Xu and Yang narrowly avoided elimination in the quarterfinals, defeating Caroline Dolehide and Storm Sanders 11-9 in a deciding 10-point tiebreak.

Santiago Gonzalez and Edouard Roger-Vasselin (PR) vs. John Isner and Jack Sock (WC) – The Americans won this event back in 2018.  They have not only beat the top seeds this fortnight, but also teams including Nick Kyrgios, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Sascha Zverev.  This is Gonzalez and Roger-Vasseilin’s first tournament as a team.  They upset the second seeds in the semifinals, and also overcame teams which included Denis Shapovalov and Andrey Rublev.


Saturday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Casper Ruud Overcomes ‘Tough Start’ To Set De Minaur Final In Acapulco

Casper Ruud is into his first ATP 500 final after defeating Holger Rune in three sets.

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Casper Ruud is into his second consecutive final in Mexico after defeating Holger Rune 3-6 6-3 6-4 in Acapulco.

The Norwegian had to overcome an electric start from Rune to prevail in 2 hours and 24 minutes.

It was a clinical performance from Ruud who is now into his second consecutive final in Mexico after reaching the final in Los Cabos last week.

Speaking after the match Ruud admitted it was a tough start but he’s pleased to be in another final, “It was a tough start,” Ruud told the ATP website.

“Holger just came out firing bullets from the forehand, from the backhand and I had not too much time to play my game. I was frustrated at times, especially at the end of the first set, beginning of the second.

“I didn’t really feel like I got to play any points how I wanted to, so there was some frustration towards myself, towards my box, because I didn’t feel like we were doing the right thing.

“But luckily with one break in the second, it turned around a bit and in the third set it got a little physical. I think maybe Holger seemed like he was struggling a little bit and started firing even more and a couple of games it went in and he broke me, which is frustrating.

“Some unforced errors crept up on him and I served really well in the last game to close it out.”

Ruud is now into his first ATP 500 final in Acapulco where he will face defending champion Alex De Minaur.

De Minaur overcame Jack Draper after the Brit retired at 4-0 down in the deciding set.

Heading into Saturday’s final, De Minaur leads the head-to-head 1-0 although that was in a completely different scoring format in the Next Gen Finals.

Whatever happens on Saturday, Ruud will return to the world’s top ten.

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Andrey Rublev Disqualified In Dramatic Dubai Semi-Final

Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final in Dubai.

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Andrey Rublev was disqualified from his semi-final with Alexander Bublik after being accused of swearing in Russian.

The event took place in Dubai where Rublev had more than enough opportunities to win the match having been 4-2 40-0 up in the deciding set.

However Bublik came back into the match as he caught up with Rublev in what was turning into a fascinating contest.

The score was at 6-5 Bublik when Rublev’s frustrations boiled over when he allegedly told the official at the side of the court that he was a ‘f****** moron’ in Russian.

One of the officials on the sidelines at the side of the court reported the incident and the supervisor ruled that Rublev should be defaulted.

The incident below means that Rublev will now lose all his ranking points and prize money, resulting in Rublev exiting the world’s top five.

An ending that didn’t warrant the dramatic contest and after the match Bublik agreed that the consequences, “I highly doubt Andrey said something crazy,” Bublik was quoted by Sports Illustrated.

“He’s not this kind of guy. But I guess that’s the rules. That’s what they did, they just follow the procedure.”

Bublik will hope for a smoother finish to the final when he takes on Ugo Humbert for the title.

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Andy Murray Makes Retirement Hint After 500th Hard Court Win In Dubai

Andy Murray won his 500th hard court match in Dubai, placing him fifth on the all-time list.

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Andy Murray further hinted at retirement after securing a 500th hard court win of his career in Dubai.

The former world number one picked up his second win of the year with a 4-6 7-6(5) 6-3 victory over Denis Shapovalov.

In typical Andy Murray fashion, the Brit came back from a set down to defeat the out-of-sorts Canadian as he progressed to the second round.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RUVj537F-wQ

The win means Murray now has 500 career wins on a hard court and that is an achievement the world number 67 is proud of, “It’s not bad,” Murray told the ATP website as he sits fifth on the all-time list of hard court wins.

“Obviously hard court has been a great surface for me over the years and 500 is a lot of matches so I’m very proud of that. There are not many players that have done that, so great to get to 500 before I’m done.”

However those post-match comments weren’t the most shocking ones as Murray once again hinted at retirement this season.

The Brit has made subtle remarks that this year may be his last one but Murray’s comments today suggests that he may have already made his decision, “I probably don’t have too long left but I’ll do as best as I can these last few months,” Murray was quoted by ESPN as saying.

“I still love competing and still love the game but it gets harder and harder to compete the older you get, to keep your body fit and fresh.”

If the end is near for Murray than the Brit will look to end his career on a high for the next few months.

Before thinking about retirement Murray will look to go further in Dubai when he takes on either Ugo Humbert or Gael Monfils in the second round.

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