- The past and present of tennis meets the (near) future, as Rafael Nadal takes on Carlos Alcaraz
- The Masters 1000 semifinal, scheduled for Saturday, is the second meeting between the two Spaniards
- Read on to see if it’s Alcaraz’s time, or whether Nadal isn’t yet ready to cede to his young countryman
The semifinal in the top half of the Indian Wells Masters draw was expected to be No. 1 Daniil Medvedev against No. 4 Rafael Nadal.
Nadal, who remains the favorite to win the tournament, did his part. But Medvedev didn’t hold up his end.
The player who came out of that top quarter of the draw is Carlos Alcaraz, the teenager Nadal says is the real deal.
Alcaraz vs Nadal Odds
| Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)||+1.5 (-110)||+130||O 22.5 (-110)|
| Rafael Nadal (ESP)||-1.5 (-125)||-160||U 22.5 (-125)|
Odds as of March 18. See these BetMGM promo codes before you bet on these odds.
Alcaraz Following in Nadal’s Footsteps
Alcaraz arrived in Australia to start the 2022 season transformed – having clearly put in the hard yards in the gym and far more muscular. Which added more power to an already developing arsenal.
But it was hard to measure his progress with certainty because he has played sparingly.
He didn’t play a tuneup event Down Under. And after losing in the third round of the Australian Open to world No. 7 Matteo Berrettini in a fifth-set deciding tiebreak, he didn’t play again until the biggest of the South American winter clay-court tournaments, the Rio Open.
He won it. And that took him into the top 20. Then, he played one Davis Cup match against Romania in early March.
But when Alcaraz defeated compatriot and No. 15 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 6-0 in the third round of the Indian Wells Masters this week, he sent a pretty big message.
Bautista Agut is generally far too steady and consistent to lose to anyone by that score. Then, Alcaraz ousted defending champion Cameron Norrie in straight sets Thursday night to reach the semifinals.
And now, comes Nadal.
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Nadal Survives Kyrgios
Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, Nadal versus Kyrgios in the Indian Wells quarterfinals Thursday will remain the matchup of the week.
And while this isn’t always the case with a match involving Kyrgios, it did not disappoint.
Nadal even praised the Aussie’s effort level from start to finish.
But Nadal finally pulled away at the end, winning 7-6 (0), 5-7, 6-4.
Nadal defeats Kyrgios in three sets at the Indian Wells Masters🇪🇸🇺🇸
Rafa struggled to find his first-serve for a long time in that third set but managed to clutch out the win extending his record against Nick to 6-3 💪
19 wins to start the season… Who gon stop him? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/1UiJpzimBd
— Jack Edward (@ontheline_jack) March 18, 2022
It went two hours, 46 minutes. And Nadal had no day off to rest after his fourth-round match to give his foot issue an extra day.
But he got through it, which is good news for him.
He will have Friday to recover before facing Alcaraz.
Alcaraz vs Nadal Head-to-Head
|18 (May 5, 2003)||Age||35 (june 3, 1986)|
|El Palmar, Murcia, Spain||Birthplace||Manacor, Mallorca|
|2||Career ATP Singles Titles||91|
|0||Career Grand Slam Singles Titles||21|
|No. 19 (Feb. 28, 2022)||Career High Ranking||No. 1 (Aug. 18, 2008)|
|No. 19||Current Ranking||No. 5|
|$2,207,400||Career Prize Money||$127,435,840|
|12-1||2021 Won/Loss record||19-0|
|0||Career Head to Head||1|
One Previous Meeting, Discounted
It will probably help Alcaraz that he got his “first-ever meeting” with idol Nadal out of the way before this Indian Wells semifinal.
It happened at the Masters 1000 last spring in Madrid, with Alcaraz looking less than 100 percent physically, and on the day of his 18th birthday. And in their homeland.
It was a lot. Too much, really. And Nadal issued an unrelenting beatdown, winning 6-1, 6-2.
Nearly a year later, Alcaraz won’t be satisfied with the same result.
Carlos Alcaraz vs Rafael Nadal Match History
|2021||Madrid Masters (R32)||Outdoor Clay||6-1, 6-2||Nadal|
Nadal continues to struggle with a foot issue and, while he’s giving it 150 percent effort, is getting through his matches by grinding it out.
We predict Nadal will get off to a strong start as Alcaraz shakes off the nerves, but that the teenager will rally and win the second set (+115)
That said, Nadal is undefeated on the year (19-0). This will be his last, or second-to-last, match before a break to prepare for the clay-court season as he’s not playing the Miami Open. He’ll give it all he has.
Alcaraz may again look like an 18-year-old facing off against his idol.
But he’s now good enough to give Nadal everything he can handle, whatever the result turns out to be.
Best Bet: A Three-Setter (+135)
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