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A fabulous Final Four at the Indian Wells Masters

March Madness–tennis version–features back-to-back Masters 1000 tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami.

We are almost at the halfway point, as the BNP Paribas Open has already been reduced to its Final Four. And what a Final Four it is. In an event that didn’t have either Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in the field, you couldn’t ask for much more. You have the No. 1 seed (Carlos Alcaraz), the hottest player on tour right now (Daniil Medvedev), the first-ever Italian man to reach the Indian Wells semis (Jannik Sinner), and a crowd-favorite American (Frances Tiafoe).

Saturday’s matchups are Medvedev vs. Tiafoe and Alcaraz vs. Sinner.

Medvedev has won three titles and 18 matches in a row, having triumphed in Rotterdam, Doha, and Dubai. The former world No. 1 has not had an easy time of things in the desert, as he has required three sets twice and then defeated Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in two tough sets on Wednesday. Tiafoe is a heavy underdog in this matchup, but he has been dominant so far this fortnight. The 25-year-old benefited from a favorable draw through four rounds and then impressively eased past a red-hot Cameron Norrie 6-4, 6-4 in the quarters.

Alcaraz vs. Sinner is a rematch of 2022’s best match–and one of the best matches in recent history. A U.S. Open quarterfinal thriller was won by Alcaraz 6-3, 6-7(6), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3 on his eventual way to the title. Out of five career head-to-head encounters, only one has ended in straight sets–and even that one was a competitive 7-6(1), 7-5 result (Alcaraz won at the 2021 Paris Masters). There is no reason to think the next chapter will disappoint. Alcaraz and Sinner are a combined 28-4 this season (the Spaniard is 12-1; the Italian is 16-3).

Who needs Djokovic and Nadal? Well, the tour does. But in this case the sting of their absences in Indian Wells is diminished.

Get your popcorn ready for a thrilling semifinal Saturday.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.