Facebook Social Button Twitter Social Button Follow Us on InstagramYouTube Social Button
NewsScoresRankingsLucky Letcord PodcastShopPro GearPickleballGear Sale

By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Saturday, March 16, 2024


Reigning champion Carlos Alcaraz rallied past Jannik Sinner 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, snapping the Italian's 19-match winning streak to return to the Indian Wells final.

Photo credit: Frey/TPN/Getty

An airborne Jannik Sinner was sprawling and Carlos Alcaraz was soaring.

Diving in pursuit of a volley, Sinner crashed to the court, losing his Head racquet, as a leaping Alcaraz knocked off a high volley to score the crucial break in the final set.

More: Saudis Offer $2 Billion to Merge ATP and WTA

Blown out in the first set, Alcaraz ascended to a higher level grounding Sinner 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to land his second straight BNP Paribas Open final.

This blockbuster semifinal was a rematch of the 2023 semifinals and featured a near three-hour rain delay.

It is the 11th consecutive Indian Wells win for Alcaraz, who snapped Sinner’s career-best 19-match winning streak ensuring he will retain the world No. 2 ranking when the new ATP rankings are released on Monday.

"It's unbelievable to play matches like this one with this atmosphere," Alcaraz said afterward. "As I said after the match, I feel like I'm playing at home. It's something crazy seeing that I'm playing the other part of my country, of the world, and be able to feel that energy, that love like I'm playing at home is something unbelievable.

"So every time that I'm playing against Jannik, I think for both of us, it's an amazing fight. But for the crowd, is an amazing match that I think that they enjoy every time that we are playing each other. I think the energy that people bring to us is special."

The second-seeded Alcaraz is the first defending champion to return to the BNP Paribas Open final since 2017 champion Roger Federer reached the 2018 final as the Spanish superstar reached his first final since bowing to Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati championship match last August.

In a rematch of the 2023 semifinal, Sinner started strong basically blasting through the champion at times before Alcaraz altered his game plan, varied the heights and spins of his shots and used his nets skills and variety to turn the match around.

During the third set, Sinner seemed to be pained by a left calf issue, but he was running with vigor until the final ball as Alcaraz leveled their head-to-head series at 4-4. Sinner said "we will see" if he'll be able to play the Miami Open, where he was runner-up to Daniil Medvedev last spring.

"It's for sure not the ending that I wanted, but, you know, playing against him, it's always tough. I tried to, yeah, to play obviously good tennis, which I have done, especially the first set," Sinner said.  "Then I made a couple of mistakes. You know, the momentum has changed. He raised his level.

"Obviously tough one to swallow, but, you know, hopefully we will see in the next days if physically I will be good for Miami, which is for me personally the most important. And I'm really happy that, you know, for him because he's a really great player, good guy."

Playing for his first title since he dethroned Novak Djokovic to win Wimbledon, Alcaraz will face either 2023 finalist Daniil Medvedev or 17th-seeded Tommy Paul in tomorrow’s final.

Bouncing on their toes, Alcaraz and Sinner were tap dancing in synchronicity in Tennis Paradise.

Wearing identical Nike blue-and-white jackets, the two rivals warmed up as one beneath the “Tennis Paradise” sign moments before stepping on the stadium to play for a spot in the Indian Wells final—and the world No. 2 ranking.

A packed stadium crowd including Hall of Famers Rocket Rod Laver and Tracy Austin sitting side-by-side and Academy Award winner Charlize Theron, watched Sinner play the serve-and-volley holding at love for 2-1.

A spitting shower increased a bit and the players left the court at about 1:58 p.m. local time. After about 25 minutes the pair came back only for a light sprinkle to begin again.

Nearly three hours after the rain delay, play resumed with Alcaraz scattering a couple of errors to face double break point. A jittery Alcaraz capped a poor game double-faulting away the break and a 3-1 lead.

The Australian Open champion dodged a break point, flicked a stretch lob to turn defense to offense winning a rousing 21-shot rally that helped him confirm the break for 4-1.

Wimbledon winner Alcaraz is one of the game’s most creative players, but the weight and pace of Sinner’s drives offered little time for him to conjure answers.

Running around his backhand, Sinner smacked a forehand winner down the line then rocketed a running forehand pass by a lunging Alcaraz breaking again for 5-1.

On his second set point, Sinner sealed the opening game with a five-game run to take the 36-minute opener. Sinner served with more authority and accuracy—he served 71 percent to Alcaraz’s 56 percent—and backed up his deliveries with deeper drives. Sinner won five of six second-serve points in the opener.

Forty-seven minutes into the match, Alcaraz navigated a tricky deuce game for his first service hold since the second game of the match hours earlier.

Beaten in some of the blistering drives in the first set, Alcaraz adjusted imparting more height and spin on his shots and imposing his net skills. Twice, Alcaraz closed at net including a fine forehand drop volley for his first break and a 3-1 second-set lead.

A fired-up Alcaraz dabbed a couple of deft drop shots—Sinner made an astounding sliding, sprawling get on the first one—and his skill changing pace and angle helped him consolidate for 4-1.

Serving for the second set, Alcaraz ran into issues staring down a fourth break point of the day. Showing major guts, Alcaraz slid into a backhand he blasted down the line that slid off the sideline to save break point.

Backing the third seed up with ballistic forehand strikes, Alcaraz carved a forehand drop shot winner to force a final set after 82 minutes.

Three games into the third set, Sinner was clutching at the back of his left calf. The Italian soared high to snap off a smash to face a break point, but netted a forehand off a looping return to face break point No. 2.

In an insane rally that followed, Alcaraz streaked forward to scrape a net cord shot back. Sinner ripped a pass and the lunging Spaniard knocked off a full-stretch forehand volley. A diving Sinner flicked back a reply, losing his Head stick in the process, but Alcaraz soared high to snap a high backhand volley winner breaking for 2-1.

The second seed torched a forehand into the corner consolidating for 3-1.

"At the moment, I feel a little bit everything on my body," Sinner told the media in Indian Wells. "But it's normal. It's sport. You know, you have to accept this.

"I had some problems, just small problems, but it was okay throughout until the third set. Then when I fell, I felt a little bit the elbow because I fell over the elbow and I rolled over. So was for me after tough to serve.

"But he makes things very difficult to play obviously. He puts a lot of pressure on you. You know, he changed a couple of things today, like, tactically, which I have to watch out for the next time. I have to improve couple of things and trying to beat him again."

Driving his crosscourt forehand with twisting topspin and sharper angles at times, Alcaraz drew a couple of forehand errors scoring his second straight break for 4-1.

On his third match point, Alcaraz measure his forehand and lashed one final diagonal winner to seal a two hour, five-minute triumph.


Latest News