Rublev Reaches First Indian Wells SF, Faces Fritz; Nadal v Alcaraz
by Staff | March 18th, 2022, 10:00 pm
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Andrey Rublev ran his win streak to 13 on Friday cruising past Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 6-2 to reach his first Indian Wells Masters semifinal.

Rublev, who came into the event after back-to-back titles in Marseille and Dubai, hasn’t dropped a set in four matches thus far, and in his first quarterfinal at Indian Wells, he ran away from the former Top 3 Dimitrov who also hadn’t lost a set to this point.

Rublev held a break lead in the first but failed to serve it out. But from 5-all, the Russian won seven straight games and eight of the last 10.

“I played really well,” Rublev said. “Since the beginning, it was more about who would be the first one, who would start to lead the point, who would start to dictate to play more aggressive. Both of us would like to take our forehand and try to dictate, so it was just who’s going to be the first one.”

American Taylor Fritz followed backing up his 2021 Indian Wells semifinal with a return trip to the last four by dispatching Miomir Kecmanovic 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1.

“I’m really happy with how it turned out,” Fritz said. “He was playing tough from the baseline. I was maybe giving him a little bit too much. I felt like I couldn’t really string it together on his serve.

“I just regrouped, found a way in the third. Kind of put more points together in the third set, so that’s what did it for me.”

Fritz tossed in three double faults to give the Serb the break for 5-3 in the second, and minutes later it was going three.

But Kecmanovic had nothing left in the tank and in a blink it was 5-0 and over.

“I don’t know what I did in the second set on my serve,” Fritz said of that second set letdown. “Like I really don’t want to talk about it. I don’t ever want to think about it again.”

Fritz will now face Rublev tomorrow.

“I’m going to have to be a lot more solid from the baseline,” Fritz said. “I think I will be because I know that I have to be.

“So I think just knowing that, I’ll be leaning into my shots a little bit more, playing a bit better, more aggressive from the baseline. But I’ve got to keep serving the way I’ve been serving.”

Second on tomorrow will be a tantalizing tussle between Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz. Seventeen years separate the two Spaniards.

“I am super happy,” Nadal said seeing the success Alcaraz has had. “Of course it’s going to be a great rival for now and for the next couple of months, without a doubt. But thinking and being selfish, it’s great, honestly, to have such a star from my country, because we, for the tennis lovers, we’re going to keep enjoy an amazing player fighting for the most important titles for the next, I don’t know how many years, a lot of years.

“I like him. I wish him all the very best. Probably not on Saturday when he plays against me, but in general.”

Alcaraz is the youngest to reach the Indian Wells Masters semifinal since Andre Agassi in 1988. And Alcaraz turned 18 on the day he lost to Nadal last year in Madrid.

“I remember that I played really, really nervous,” Alcaraz said. “I think this time I trained with him a couple of times, I know more how to play against him. I think now it’s going to be a little bit different this match. Obviously he can destroy me again, but I don’t know what is going to happen.”

While Nadal is 19-0 this year, Alcaraz is 12-1 with a 5-set loss to Matteo Berrettini at the Australian Open.

“It’s tough to play against Rafa but at the same time I will enjoy the moment, I will enjoy the match,” Alcaraz said. “It’s not every day you play against your idol. I’m going to be happy even if I lose that match. but I am focused right now to play my best against Rafa and be able to take my chances.”

Alcaraz is making his first Masters semifinal, Nadal his 76th.

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