Tennis: Alcaraz rallies after 3-hour rain delay to reach Indian Wells final

AP , Sunday 17 Mar 2024

Carlos Alcaraz defeated Jannik Sinner 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to end the Italian’s 19-match winning streak and advance to the BNP Paribas Open final on Saturday night.

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz, of Spain, runs down a shot from Jannik Sinner, of Italy, during a semifinal at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament in Indian Wells, Calif., Saturday, March 16, 2024. AP

Alcaraz retained his world No. 2 ranking with the victory and extended his winning streak to 11 matches at Indian Wells, where he’ll play fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev in Sunday’s title match. It’s a rematch of last year’s final, won by Alcaraz in straight sets.

Top-ranked Iga Swiatek plays ninth-seeded Maria Sakkari in the women’s final Sunday.

Medvedev outlasted 17th-seeded American Tommy Paul 1-6, 7-6 (3), 6-2. Paul was up a set and 3-2 in the second-set tiebreaker when he rolled his left ankle and Medvedev took control.

Sinner led 2-1 in the first set when the match was suspended for more than three hours because of rain in the Southern California desert. Rain also affected the women’s semifinals on Friday night.

Sinner went on to dominate the first set before Alcaraz changed his tactics. The Spaniard started coming to the net more and moving Sinner up and back.

“I had to change my game a little bit in the second set, that was a good thing for me, to change my style a little bit,” Alcaraz said. “I changed the return position, and that’s why I gave myself a chance to put more balls in play so I could wait for my chances (to attack).”

Sinner could have knocked Alcaraz out of the second spot with a win. He had won 19 matches in a row dating to last year, including 16 straight this year.

Alcaraz earned the only break of the second set in the fourth game with a forehand drop volley winner. He faced a break point on his serve in the seventh game, but shook it off eventually served out the set.

Alcaraz broke Sinner in the third and fifth games of the third. The players were blasting the ball from both sides and attacking the net, which made for several entertaining and sharply angled volley exchanges.

Alcaraz led 40-love on his serve for his first match point when he netted a backhand. Sinner’s smash dashed Alcaraz’s second match point before the Spaniard closed it out with a forehand crosscourt winner.

Sinner had 38 unforced errors to 24 for Alcaraz and the Italian had 21 winners to 19 for Alcaraz.

“I was too predictable at some points,” Sinner said. “I think that’s the lesson for today. We will work on certain things, and hopefully I will get better.”

In the second semifinal, Paul served-and-volleyed his way to taking the first set 6-1 while breaking Medvedev three times.

Paul rallied from an 0-4 deficit to force the tiebreaker in the second set. He led 3-2 in the breaker before Medvedev won the final five points to take the set, 7-6 (3). Paul had his ankle taped before the third set.

Paul won 23 of 42 net points over the first two sets.

Medvedev broke to open the third set and again in the fifth game for a 4-1 lead. The Russian faced a pair of break points in the next game, but he held with a forehand volley winner to go up 5-1.

Paul held to trail 5-2 and had two break points in the next game, but Medvedev closed out the match when Paul dumped a backhand into the net.

In the women’s doubles final, top-seeded Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan and Elise Mertens of Belgium defeated third-seeded Storm Hunter of Australia and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic, 6-3, 6-4. The winners split $447,300.

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