ATP

Nadal extends win streak with gritty win over Alcaraz to book Indian Wells final berth against Fritz

By Sports Desk March 19, 2022

Rafael Nadal extended his 2022 win streak to 20 matches and clinched a spot in his fifth Indian Wells Masters final after a thrilling three-set victory over compatriot Carlos Alcaraz on Saturday.

The fourth seed lifted in the final set to win 6-4 4-6 6-3 over 19th seed Alcaraz in three hours and 12 minutes, with Nadal to play American Taylor Fritz in Sunday's decider.

The match was played amid blustery conditions, particularly the second set, where debris flew on to the court regularly interrupting or delaying play, which appeared to impact Nadal more.

Alcaraz had more winners (41-24) but also more unforced errors (34-26), with Nadal finding another gear when it mattered in the final set.

Nadal's victory improved his record to 20-0 this season, earning him a fifth Indian Wells Masters final spot and his first since 2013. The Spaniard won the Indian Wells crown in 2007, 2009, 2013 and was runner-up in 2011.

The 35-year-old also clinched a berth in his 53rd Masters final, keeping him on track for a 37th title at this level. 

The 21-time major winner claimed the decisive break in the eighth game of the third set after a physio break for treatment on his back, before serving out to-love for victory.

"In the second, the conditions became crazy, honestly," Nadal said during his on-court interview. "It was not funny playing in this wind. In terms of tennis it was OK but in terms of stopping all the time, it was not good.

"In the third I think I played much better. I played much more aggressive. I am super happy. Being in the final means a lot to me."

Alcaraz had started the better to open up a 2-0 lead in the opening set, before Nadal responded emphatically.

There were five breaks in a row in the second set, including the Spanish teenager going ahead 5-4 after a game lasting almost 20 minutes, converting his seventh break point, before serving out the set.

As the conditions settled, Nadal showed more aggression, coming into the net with regularity before taking the key break in the eighth game.

American 20th seed Fritz reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final with a 7-5 6-4 victory over seventh seed Andrey Rublev in one hour and 50 minutes.

The California native is the first American male to reach the Indian Wells since John Isner in 2012.

"It's just unreal, really. It doesn't even seem real. I'm just trying to take in the moment, regroup and come back tomorrow for the final," Fritz said in his on-court interview. "But it's a dream come true."

"Today I definitely played my best match of the tournament so far. I was so much more aggressive from the ground and so much more solid [with] my ground strokes, whereas [in] other matches I was maybe playing a bit safer.

"I really tried to take it to him and impose my game today. I did it well, so that helped a lot."

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