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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday March 18, 2022


Tennis’ future and present are set to clash at Indian Wells as 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz and 35-year-old Rafael Nadal each passed their quarterfinal tests at Indian Wells to set a mouthwatering semifinal at the BNP Paribas Open.

Tennis Express

Nadal, who defeated Nick Kyrgios 7-6(0), 5-7, 6-4 in a dramatic, turbulent tilt on Thursday, knows he’ll have his hands fuls with the whirling dervish from El Palmar, Murcia, Spain. The 18-year-old phenom has wowed peers and pundits ever since he hit the tour a few years back.

On Thursday, after his 6-4, 6-3 victory over Cameron Norrie, it’s clear that Alcaraz is coming into his own. This fact was acknowledged by Nadal.

“I think he's unstoppable in terms of his career,” Nadal said of his compatriot, who became the youngest semifinalist at Indian Wells since Andre Agassi in 1988. “He has all the ingredients. He has the passion. He has the, he's humble enough to work hard. No, he's a good guy. He [reminds] me a lot of [myself] when I was 17- or 18-years-old kid. I think he has the passion. He has the talent and the physical component that it's great.”

Nadal defeated Alcaraz in their only previous meeting at Madrid last year (6-1, 6-2), but since then the young Spaniard has continued his climb, becoming the youngest men’s singles quarterfinalist in US Open Open Era history and claiming his first 500 title at Rio last month.

Alcaraz owns a 12-1 record on the season, but it pales in comparison to Nadal’s 19-0 record – the best start to a season in the Spaniar’s legendary career.

“It's amazing to play against Rafa,” Alcaraz said of facing the 21-time major champion. “It's my idol since I'm a kid, so it's never easy to play against him, but I think it's going to be a great match. I think it's a great experience for me to meet him in Masters 1000, semifinal, here at Indian Wells, but, yeah, I'm going to have fun out there and enjoy every single second in the match. Yeah, it's a very special experience for me.”

Alcaraz says he’ll never underestimate the fighting capacity of Nadal.

“I know it's going to be a really tough match, but everybody knows how is Rafa's game and he has a thousand lives in the match,” he said. “When he's down, he can turn the, turn up the shot, turn down the, turn around the game.”

 

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