The master Rafa Nadal beat both his “apprentice” Carlos Alcaraz and a desert storm to extend his 2022 winning streak to 20 games undefeated and reach Sunday’s Indian Wells final.
The quality of the tennis was breath-taking throughout and the sellout crowd was treated to one of the finest ever non-Grand Slam final contests with the World No. 4 coming out on top 6-4,4-6,6-3.
In was an up-and-down first set with the prodigious eighteen year old getting off to a perfect start breaking Nadal to 15 and consolidating his lead in a 12 minute, six-deuce game and saving five break-back points.
Alcaraz showed why he is such an exciting prospect as he continued to save more break points from 0-40 down in the next game but Nadal kept up the pressure on his serve and broke to take the first set 6-4 on his fourth set point in just over an hour.
The 18-year-old has frequently been compared to the world No 4 by pundits and players including his idol Nadal himself, but Rafa is clearly not ready to step down yet.
Both players struggled to serve in a strong wind in the second set with towels flying across the court and the crowd were on tenterhooks as “OCD” Nadal’s trademark precision placed water bottles at his chair wobbled as if an earthquake was about to strike.
Serve times crept up well over the 25 second maximum allowed but understandably none was punished by the umpire.
Nadal confidently served for the match with a love game, and a 95-mph ace.
Nadal had finally escaped from Alcaraz .
Waiting in the final is Californian Taylor Fritz.
Seeded 20th, Fritz is the first American man to make the final since John Isner in 2012 and he’ll attempt to be the first to win the title since Andre Agassi managed it in 2001.