As he continues to gain steam in his bid for a maiden BNP Paribas Open title, Carlos Alcaraz crossed off another first on Thursday night in Indian Wells. For the first time in four ATP Head2Head meetings with Felix Auger-Aliassime, the Spaniard emerged victorious with a 6-4, 6-4 result in the desert.
In a thoroughly entertaining quarter-final, two of the brightest young stars in the game delivered a non-stop reel of highlight points. The power, athleticism and shotmaking on display kept the stadium crowd enraptured for two hours, with both players producing magic from all parts of the court.
The victory, Alcaraz’s first against a Top 10 opponent since he beat Casper Ruud in the US Open final, moves the Spaniard within two wins of a return to the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. He will next meet Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals, with Daniil Medvedev or Frances Tiafoe beyond that in the final.
While the top-seeded Alcaraz dominated early and late, Auger-Aliassime matched him blow for blow for much of the match. The Spaniard fought off the first break point against him to serve out the opening set, but could not deny his opponent’s charge as the eighth seed broke to level the second set at 1-1.
With drop shots, lobs and bruising winners galore, it was a deft drop volley that brought up the decisive break point late in the second set for Alcaraz. After a seven-minute game — one of many marathons on the serve of Auger-Aliassime, who saved nine of 12 break points — Alcaraz converted his third break of the match before confidently serving out the win. Prior to Thursday, he was 0 for 11 on break chances against the Canadian.
The 19-year-old Alcaraz, who is now 13-9 against Top 10 opposition, is seeking to become the second man to win at least three ATP Masters as a teen, having won Miami and Madrid last year. His countryman Rafael Nadal won six.
Auger-Aliassime, 22, fell short of his third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final. Despite his best Indian Wells run drawing to a close, his success moved him up four places to No. 6 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. He will match his career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking on Monday, unless Jannik Sinner wins the title.