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Ricky’s pick for the Indian Wells semifinal between Alcaraz and Sinner

A rematch of 2022’s most memorable encounter on the ATP Tour will take place in the BNP Paribas Open semifinals on Saturday.

Carlos Alcaraz an Jannik Sinner waged an incredible quarterfinal contest at the U.S. Open, won by the Spaniard 6-3, 6-7(7), 6-7(0), 7-5, 6-3 on his eventual way to the title. Overall the head-to-head series stands at 3-2 in Alcaraz’s favor (it’s 2-2 on the main tour). Only one of their five meetings has ended in straight sets, and even that was a competitive 7-6(1), 7-5 win for Alcaraz (2021 Paris Masters).

It’s no wonder that the current world No. 2 loves these battles.

“I enjoy (it) a lot,” Alcaraz said when asked about how it is to play against Sinner. “As I [have said] a couple of times, I love playing really tough matches, close matches, matches with high quality. I love playing [those] kind of matches. Jannik is a great player; great ball-striker, as well. So I love every match that I played against him.

“I enjoy that [matchup] because I have to be really, really focused on every shot. I have to play my best. That’s why Jannik is such a great player, as well. Not only with great serve, great movement; it is because he pushes the opponent to the limit, trying to play aggressive with great shots. And [for] the opponent (it) is really tough to be focused, mentally and physically, during the whole match.

“That’s what I love playing against him, as well, [because] it pushes me to the limit. I have to be really, really focused. I love to feel that.”

To say that Alcaraz was pushed to the limit by Sinner at the U.S. Open would be a gross understatement. The Italian even had a match point to close it out in four sets, but Alcaraz survived and went on to triumph in five sets after five hours and 15 minutes.

The rematch should be a great one, as both guys are playing awesome tennis. They boast a combined record of 28-4 in the early stages of this 2023 campaign (Alcaraz is 12-1; Sinner is 16-3). The top seed has not dropped a set this fortnight, beating Thanasi Kokkinakis, Tallon Griekspoor, Jack Draper, and Felix Auger-Aliassime. Sinner also stormed past Richard Gasquet, Adrian Mannarino, and Stan Wawrinka before needing three sets to oust defending champion Taylor Fritz 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 in the quarterfinals.

A slight edge goes to Alcaraz, who has been borderline invincible when healthy dating back to last summer. Leg injuries have been a problem, but there has been absolutely no sign of them in Indian Wells. Look for the world No. 2 to advance, but he will probably enjoy being pushed to the limit in the process.

Pick: Alcaraz in 2

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