Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz ousted defending Indian Wells champion Cameron Norrie to reach his first ATP Masters semi-final on Thursday and a dream duel with idol Rafael Nadal.
The 18-year-old roared through both sets to beat Norrie 6-4, 6-3 and become the second-youngest Indian Wells ATP semi-finalist in history, behind 17-year-old Andre Agassi in 1988.
“I have no words to describe my feelings right now,” said Alcaraz, who fired 31 winners to emerge victorious in a tense duel that featured five breaks in each set.
Alcaraz lost a break twice in the first set, but won the last three games, taking the set on his third break point.
Breaking early in the second, he broke Britain’s Norrie three times before serving the match with a love game to book the matchup with fellow Spaniard Nadal.
“It’s hard to play against Rafa, but at the same time I’ll enjoy the moment, I’ll enjoy the match. It’s not every day you play against your idol,” he said.
“I will be happy even if I lose that match, but I am focused at the moment to play my best against Rafa and to be able to take advantage of my chances.”
Alcaraz has faced Nadal before, falling 6-1, 6-2, in Madrid last year.
He believes he can make more than one match with the record-setting 21-time Grand Slam champion this time around, even though Nadal is on a 19-0 run to start 2022.
“I remember playing very, very nervous,” said Alcaraz, who won the Rio de Janeiro title in February.
“I think this time I trained with him a couple of times, I know more how to play against him.
“I think now this game is going to be a little bit different. Obviously, he can destroy me again. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Nadal, who beat Australian Nick Kyrgios to reach the semi-finals, said he was excited to see a rising Spanish star.
“I think he is unstoppable in terms of his career,” Nadal said. “He has all the ingredients. He has all the passion. He is humble enough to work hard. He reminds me of a lot of things when I was 17 or 18.”
“So I like him. I wish him all the best. Possibly not (the day after tomorrow) when he plays me, but in general.”