Carlos Alcaraz faces his toughest test yet at the Indian Wells Masters as the Spaniard continues his quest to return to the top ATP ranking, facing a weekend semi-final with Italian threat Jannik Sinner.
Alcaraz, just back after several months of an abdominal injury, posted a 6-4, 6-4 quarter-final defeat of Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime while Sinner defeated defending champion Taylor Fritz 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.
Sinner and teenaged Spaniard Alcaraz are locked up at two wins apiece in their series, which included an epic late-night five-setter at the US open won by Alcaraz.
Alcaraz and Sinner are level at 2-2 in their ATP Head2Head series, with the Spaniard winning a record-late five-setter in the US Open quarter-finals on his way to his first Grand Slam title.
“I’m really happy to play against him again. Great battles,” Alcaraz said “I enjoy the matches against him.
“I would say it’s going to be a really good match, for the fans as well, I will try to show my best, to show my 100 per cent.
“Jannik is playing great. I’m going to enjoy that match.”
The defeat of FAA was the first Top 10 win for Alcaraz since overcoming Casper Ruud in the US Open final; if he lifts the Indian Wells final, Alcaraz can return to the No. 1 ranking, replacing Novak Djokovic.
“Today, the goal was to stay there,” Alcaraz said. “I knew that I was going to have my chances.”
The 19-year-old called the victory “probably one of my best matches this season”.
Sinner ended a nine-match win streak at the tournament for holder Fritz as he took victory over the American to become the first Italian into the IW semis.
“I just tried to play quite aggressively, which I’ve done,” the winner said.
“I’m obviously very happy about the performance. Playing against Taylor is never easy. I lost against him two years ago here.
“He loves the conditions here so I’m very happy that I found a way today.”