Indian Wells 2023: Alcaraz steals time from time | Sports

One month, three tournaments and 13 games have been enough for Carlos Alcaraz, who was knocked off his horse due to the injury he suffered in his right leg on December 4, not only making up for lost time but also his essence. Once again, the young man from Murcia competes at a gallop and dazzles with one more title in his bag, 12 wins and one last exhibition –a 6-4 double against Félix Auger-Alissime, in two hours– that places him in front of the Italian Jannik Sinner in the Indian Wells semifinals, which will be played this morning (not before 11:00 p.m., Movistar Deportes). He has returned to El Palmar as if he had not been absent, a sign of greatness, a sign that accompanies the outstanding.

There are the masterful returns of Rafael Nadal –so many times–; those of Novak Djokovic –in 2018, after an elbow operation and getting lost in limbo, or those that he stars in after each break–; Unforgettable was Roger Federer’s in 2017, through the front door after going under the knife for the first time; And just as meritorious or more is that of Andy Murray, who could have retired to his premises a long time ago and is still determined to get the last drop of juice out of his game. They have been, they are actually, the best reference for the Spaniard, located just two victories away from retaking command of the circuit and, above all, at a level that is difficult to imagine due to the speed in the process.

Deflated in the final stretch of last season, the result of physical wear and tear and the anxiety produced by premature stardom, Alcaraz garnered the trophy in Buenos Aires, kept his tone in Rio de Janeiro –where he was only stopped by a hamstring strain– and shines in Indian Wells, where he settled an outstanding debt in his last appearance. He finally managed to dismantle Auger-Aliassime, before whom he had fallen in the three preceding ones; He also achieved it with fresh and imaginative tennis, with the knife between his teeth in every return and his characteristic repertoire of drop shots. He impresses the Spanish, not because he does not have faculties but because of the immediacy. Remember: 19 years.

“It doesn’t surprise me much, I’m a tennis player and a guy who learns quickly,” says he, a deep admirer of Federer -with whom he came to train a couple of times on the grass at Wimbledon, in 2019- and who usually invests a generous number of hours reviewing videos of his sport on YouTube. “I look at the greats like Djokovic or Rafa, and how every time they have come back from injuries they manage to have many options to win a title. I noticed them when I was injured and training [con un paréntesis competitivo que se extendió casi cuatro meses]. They motivated me with the way they played in their first tournaments. I was surprised when I won in Buenos Aires, but not now”, continues the number two on the ATP.

Sensations, above results

His reappearance on the clay in Argentina has already left a very positive mark, but not so much for the award, but also for being the first since September, as for the sensations he gave off against great rivals such as Dejre (57th), Lajovic (80th ), Zapata (74th) and Norrie (12th). The following week he resolved tricky situations in the Brazilian arena –De Carvalho (556th), Fognini (86th), Lajovic again, Jarry (139th) and Norrie again– and these days in California his game has maintained an upward trend, reaching the high point against an adversary who had denied him three times.

“Félix plays better indoors [le batió en Valencia y Basilea]. This time I took my chance. I was very focused on the rest and that was very important to me. He had never broken his serve until now, and that is a good fact for me. I would say that the rest has been the key to everything”, he pointed out this Friday, consolidating the progression that his layout has described against Kokkinakis (94th), Griekspoor (36th) and Draper (56th). “I think I play better on a hard court, because of my movements and my style of play”, he specifies; “But it seems that the results are also good on clay. Yes, I would say that I am not a better tennis player than a month ago. I just try to play my game in every game.”

Sinner, during the match against Fritz.
Sinner, during the match against Fritz.MATTHEW STOCKMAN (Getty Images via AFP)

Despite having started the year late, having cut short the pre-season – an injury to the semimembranosus in his right leg – and not having been able to compete in Australia in January, Alcaraz has cut time after time and in the blink of an eye he It has repositioned itself in the very first line, regardless of what happens in the double episode that will seal Indian Wells. In his head, however, there is no other thought than Sinner, one of the players with the greatest projection and who in 2021 surpassed him twice, the same times that he has imposed on the Italian.

“I love playing against Jannik, I love playing hard, close, quality matches, because they bring out the best in me,” he slides. “Sinner is a fantastic tennis player, a great puncher. He has a great serve and moves very well, he pushes us to the limit; With him it is very difficult to stay focused throughout the game, but at the same time, I like that challenge”, closes the Murcian, a tennis player without corsets or restraints: as soon as he sees the green light, he accelerates. He doesn’t understand deadlines. Despite what despite the god Chronos.


AC | Madrid

The number one in the WTA, the Polish Iga Swiatek, came face to face again with the most overwhelming version of Elena Rybakina, the last champion at Wimbledon. The Kazakh, 23 years old and tenth in the world, imposed her excellence on serve (82% of points with firsts) and aborted three of the four break options available to the governor of the circuit, whom she had already defeated this year in the eighth of the Australian Open. On this occasion, the score was even more forceful: double 6-2.

In this way, she and Aryna Sabalenka will repeat the final in Melbourne, since the Belarusian did not grant any option to the Greek Maria Sakkari either: 6-2 and 6-3. The Minsk tennis player is the strongest this season and, in the same way, with her last triumph she abounded in her hierarchy against the top-10; since 2018, the date on which he achieved his first victory against a rival ranked among the best in the ranking, has 24 wins, more than any other player. It is followed precisely by Sakkari with 23.

Rybakina and Sabalenka will meet for the title this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. (Dazn).

You can follow EL PAÍS Sports on Facebook and Twitteror sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.

Subscribe to continue reading

Read without limits