Carlos Alcaraz defeats Auger-Aliassime for the first time to return to Indian Wells SF | ATP circuit

As he continues to gain momentum in his quest for a first BNP Paribas Open title, Carlos Alcaraz scored another first on Thursday night in Indian Wells. For the first time in four ATP Head2Head encounters with Felix Auger-Aliassime, the Spaniard emerged victorious with a 6-4, 6-4 result in the desert.

In a highly entertaining quarter-final, two of the game’s brightest young stars delivered a non-stop reel of highlights. The power, athleticism and shooting on display thrilled the stadium crowd for two hours, with both players producing magic from all parts of the pitch.

“Today the goal was to stay there,” Alcaraz said, noting that he passed out in the final set of their meeting in Basel last October. “I knew I was going to get my chances. (I had to) try to take it. I probably played one of my best games this season, in 2023. I’m really happy and (I want to) continue.”

The win, Alcaraz’s first against a Top 10 opponent since beating Casper Ruud in the US Open final, moves the Spaniard two wins away from a return to the top of Pepperstone’s ATP rankings. In the Indian Wells semi-final for the second consecutive year (l. to Nadal in 2022), he will then meet Jannik Sinner, with Daniil Medvedev or Frances Tiafoe potentially beyond in the final.

While number one seed Alcaraz dominated early and late, Auger-Aliassime matched him blow for blow for much of the match. The Spaniard fought off the first break point against him to serve the opening set but couldn’t deny his opponent’s charge as the eighth seed broke to level the second set at 1-1.

With soft shots, lobs and murderous winners galore, it was a deft volley that brought the decisive breaking point at the end of the second set for Alcaraz. After a seven-minute game – one of many marathons serving Auger-Aliassime, who saved nine of 12 break points – Alcaraz converted his third break of the game before confidently serving up the win. Heading into Thursday, he was 0-for-11 in break chances against the Canadiens.

“It’s the first time I’ve broken his serve and I’m really proud of that,” said Alcaraz, who praised his opponent’s big first serve. “I tried to attack the second serve, I tried to dominate the points, I tried to play from the baseline and I tried to be aggressive, taking the opportunity when he serves the second service.”

Alcaraz, 19, who is now 13-9 against Top 10 opposition, is looking to become the second man to win at least three ATP Masters as a teenager, having won Miami and Madrid last year . His compatriot Rafael Nadal won six.

Auger-Aliassime, 22, missed his third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final. Although his best run in Indian Wells is coming to an end, his success has propelled him four spots to No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Live rankings. He will match his career-high ATP Pepperstone ranking on Monday unless Sinner wins the title.

Alcaraz and Sinner are tied at 2-2 in their ATP Head2Head series, with the Spaniard winning a record five sets in the 2022 US Open quarterfinals en route to his maiden Grand Slam title.

“I’m really happy to play against him again. Great battles,” Alcaraz announced. “I enjoy the games against him. I would say it will be a very good game, for the fans too, to watch this game. And for me too. I will try to show my best, show my 100 per hundred. Jannik is playing very well. I will enjoy this game.”

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