The last two quarter finals of the ATP Indian Wells tournament take place in the desert on Thursday as the top half of the draw determines its semi-final in the BNP Paribas Open ahead of the last four clashes in the first Masters 1000 event of the season on Saturday.
We already know Daniil Medvedev and Frances Tiafoe will meet in one semi-final and on Thursday the defending champion Taylor Fritz and number one seed Carlos Alcaraz are among the players looking to win through to the other.
Taylor Fritz vs Jannik Sinner
The first of the two men’s matches on Thursday sees the defending champion Taylor Fritz looking to make it through to the last four here for the third year in succession. Standing in his way is the Italian stud Jannik Sinner.
Fritz is a home boy and he has a fantastic record in this tournament, one which he will be aiming to maintain in this match. He hasn’t really faced anyone of note in his title defence just yet but he does look to be hitting the ball very nicely and the confidence of being in a home environment is clearly shining through. Sinner hasn’t really played anything of note in the event yet either. Stan Wawrinka is the most recognised opponent he has met but his best days are probably behind him. That means this is a step up in class for both men. The eye test tells us that Fritz is probably playing the better stuff and he won their only previous meeting which was here in 2021. They might both be factors to the overall result but this feels like a close contest. Fritz is my outright pick and so I’m happy for him to win without getting involved in this one.
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Carlos Alcaraz vs Felix Auger-Aliassime
The second of the matches on Thursday looks like an absolute pearler on paper as two of the best young guns in the game collide when the top seed Carlos Alcaraz takes on a Felix Auger-Aliassime who really needs a major breakthrough at this level sooner rather than later.
The Canadian has been on the scene far too long for to have only reached the semi-final in a Grand Slam or Masters 1000 event three times. That is 45 of those events he has competed in so his strike rate in them is little short of pathetic. Alcaraz has already won three of those tournaments in just 17 outings in them so the Spaniard appears better suited to these tests. He might not be better suited to playing Auger-Aliassime though as he has failed to beat him in three previous outings. One of those was at the US Open where he retired after a set while in Basel at the end of last year Alcaraz lost in straight sets but given that he pulled out of the ATP World Tour Finals the next month the Spaniard might well have been struggling with an issue in that match. Perhaps the match which is most relevant is their Davis Cup meeting last year which went the distance and I can easily see this one going deep as well. While FAA has troubles getting over the line in big matches, he usually has no such problem getting involved in a ding dong so over 21.5 games, which might not even need a deciding set to land, looks the way to go here.
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