Alcaraz-Sinner, Swiatek-Rybakina, how we meet…
There will be revenge in the air in the semi-finals in Indian Wells: Carlos Alcaraz and Jannik Sinner will meet again, six months after their Homeric duel at the US Open, just like Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina who had faced each other at the last Australian Open.
Intractable, the Spaniard world No.2 dismissed 6-4, 6-4 the Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime (10th). An opponent who did not succeed so far since he had won their first three confrontations.
“It’s great to finally beat Felix, especially with the way, playing at a very good level. It’s one of my best matches this season,” reacted Alcaraz, winner in Buenos Aires last month and whose the start of the season was plagued by a thigh injury.
Dominant in the first set, he rewarded the public with some delicious points, excelling in defense on several occasions with his crazy runs. Auger-Aliassime fought back in the second, doubling the power in his shots. But the Iberian gave a big push to break at 4-4, folding the case in a pile 2 hours.
Here he is, like last year, in the last four, with an obviously higher objective, because if he wins the tournament, he will take over the throne of world N.1 from Novak Djokovic, absent because not vaccinated.
In the meantime, a reunion with Jannik Sinner is looming, six months after their Homeric duel which had turned in his favor in the quarter-finals at Flushing Meadows, after 5:15 of an exceptional fight.
– “Beautiful battles” –
“I’m very happy to play against him again. We fought some good battles… I’ll try to give my best because he’s playing very well,” said Alcaraz, ahead of their fifth game (2 -2).
The Italian (13th) released the title holder, Taylor Fritz (5th), after a superb showdown won 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Winner in Montpellier and finalist in the process in Rotterdam in February, he confirmed his current excellent form, taking his revenge on the American, who had eliminated him in 8th in Indian Wells, two years ago.
He deserved his victory, because if Fritz never refused the baseline fight, Sinner was the most enterprising. Like the last set, during which he constantly put pressure on his rival, who saved four break points, but not the fifth.
“I tried to play aggressively from start to finish, because we have similar games, we attack from the baseline. I’m happy to have found a way to beat him”, commented the winner.
Among the women, defending champion Iga Swiatek was quick to sweep 6-2, 6-3 Sorana Cirstea (83rd) in 1h22. A score that could have been even more severe if the Romanian had not unbroken once per set, to delay the deadline.
“I started well in each round and I was able to finish cleanly. I’m happy to have put a lot of intensity. I have the impression that I manage rather well (the fact of being defending champion, editor’s note ) and that I simply play my game”, summarized the Polish N.1 world, after her 16th victory of the season, all obtained in two sets.
– “I will be ready” –
Swiatek, in search of a double that only Martina Navratilova achieved in 1991-1992, will first have to overcome the obstacle Elena Rybakina, who had eliminated her in 8th place in Melbourne in January.
And she showed her determination to set the record straight: “Elena is playing very well but I will be ready. The last time we faced each other, the conditions were totally different. I will be 100%”.
First Kazakh to open the doors of a half in the Californian desert, Rybakina had much more difficulty to overcome 7-6 (7/4), 2-6, 6-4 from the Czech Karolina Muchova ( 76th), in 2h46.
Will she have recovered by their shock on Friday? “Iga is a great fighter, she moves very well. It’s not easy against her, because you feel like every point is going to be difficult. We’ll see how it goes, but I think I have chances , if I am physically ready”, anticipated the 23-year-old player, winner at Wimbledon last year.