Indian Wells Tennis 2022 Results: Women's Final and Men's Semifinals Preview

Nate Loop@Nate_LoopFeatured ColumnistMarch 19, 2022

Iga Swiatek, of Poland, reacts after winning a game during her women's singles semifinals match against Simona Halep, of Romania, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Friday, March 18, 2022, in Indian Wells, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

We're down to the final few matches in the singles tournaments at the 2022 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

Saturday features two semifinal contests in men's singles play. The first match is an all-Spanish affair, as 18-year-old Carlos Alcaraz Garfia takes on the legendary Rafael Nadal. In the second match, it's the American Taylor Fritz against Andrey Rublev. 

Sunday will have the men's and women's finals, with the latter already set in stone. It's a matchup of two top-10 players, as world No. 4 Iga Swiatek clashes with No. 6 Maria Sakkari.

Here's a look at what to watch for on the final two days at Indian Wells.

Women's Final Preview

There's more than a title at stake when Swiatek and Sakkari meet on Sunday. Per Racquet Magazine's Ben Rothenberg, the winner will slot in below world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty in the WTA rankings:

Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg

Maria Sakkari knocks out defending champ Paula Badosa 6-2. 4-6, 6-1 to reach the Indian Wells final, the biggest of her career. Sakkari vs Iga Swiatek on Sunday for the title. Winner will be #2 in the WTA rankings.

Swiatek is playing perhaps the best tennis of her young career as she looks to capture her second Masters 1000 title of the year and third overall. The 20-year-old won the Qatar Open in February and is on a 10-match winning streak. She's on a tear, but there has been some adversity on the way, including in her most recent outing. Facing the veteran Simona Halep in the semifinals, Swiatek found herself down a break in each set before mounting a comeback and coming away with a 7-6(6), 6-4 victory.

The aggressive, fighting mentality that helped Swiatek prevail against Halep is a newer facet of her considerable game. According to BNPParibasOpen.com's Chris Oddo, her new coach, Tomasz Wiktorowski, has encouraged her to play a more attacking style of tennis. Swiatek has welcomed the change.

"I always wanted to be solid and be the kind of clay court player who is going to play topspin and stay back, but really, right now tennis is getting faster and faster. You can see that in tournaments," Swiatek said, per Oddo. "Players who are, you know, attacking and leading are winning."

An aggressive playing style could come in handy against Sakkari, who defeated defending champion Paula Bardosa, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1, on Friday night. As Rothenberg noted above, this is a massive opportunity for Sakkari, as her lone career title came at the Rabat Grand Prix in 2019, a WTA 250 series event.

Maria Sakkari of Greece hits a forehand return to Paula Badosa of Spain in their WTA semifinal match at the Indian Wells tennis tournament on March 18, 2022 in Indian Wells, California. - Sakkari defeated Badosa 6-2, 4-6, 6-1. (Photo by Frederic J. BROWN

Sakkari really established herself as a force in 2021, with semifinal runs at the French and U.S. Opens. A win at Indian Wells would represent a major breakthrough for her career. 

Head-to-head, Sakkari holds a 3-1 advantage over Swiatek. She won their three meetings in 2021, all of them in straight sets. But Swiatek might've unlocked the key to beating her, as she defeated the 26-year-old Greek 6-4, 6-3 in Doha, Qatar, last month. This matchup has all the makings of an epic final as the two stars look to add to their trophy cabinets.


Men's Semifinals Preview 

Alcaraz vs. Nadal

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

Saturday's first semifinal has the potential to be a turning point in Alcaraz's career. The young Spaniard has all the potential in the world, and he will get a chance to put his burgeoning skills to the test against a master of the game in Nadal. 

Alcaraz, the world No. 19, has a 12-1 record in singles play in 2022. He's yet to drop a set at Indian Wells and is coming off a 6-4, 6-3 win over defending champion Cameron Norrie in the quarterfinals. Heading into the first Masters 1000 semifinal of his career, Alcaraz sure looks like he's transforming from a star of the future into a present success.

"I think he's unstoppable in terms of his career," Nadal said, per the New York Times' Christopher Clarey. "He has all the ingredients. He has the passion. He's humble enough to work hard. He's a good guy."

Passion, a good work ethic and the talent to match. Alcaraz has plenty of power in his game, but his footspeed might be what's truly separating him right now. Look at him zip across the court in his round-of-32 destruction of fellow Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut:

Tennis TV @TennisTV

⚡️ I AM SPEED ⚡️ @alcarazcarlos03 is everywhere at #IndianWells https://t.co/5x29a7Zp6h

Alcaraz will have to marshal all that kinetic energy and focus if he is to win on Saturday against a master nearly twice his age.

Nadal, 35, is still basking in the glow of his men's record 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. The excellent form has traveled with him to the California desert, where he's extended his winning streak to 19 matches. Nadal beat back the towering serves of Reilly Opelka in the third round and then maneuvered past Nick Kyrgios in three sets in the quarterfinals. 

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

These two have met once before, on clay at the 2021 Madrid Open. Nadal won the match handily, 6-1, 6-2. Alcaraz has only improved since that meeting, and he might have a better chance away from Nadal's favorite surface. Win or lose, Saturday's contest will serve as an important benchmark for Alcaraz. As for Nadal, it's yet another chance to show that he's not yet ready to relinquish his hold on the game of tennis.


Fritz vs Rublev

Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press

For the second year in a row, Fritz is in the final four at Indian Wells. The 24-year-old California native booked the spot after beating Miomir Kecmanovic, 7-6(5), 3-6, 6-1, in the quarterfinals on Friday. He's now given himself a chance to improve upon last year's semifinal outing, when he lost to Nikoloz Basilashvili in straight sets. 

So far this year, Fritz is 8-4 in singles play. He impressed at the Australian Open, reaching the round of 16 before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets. Ranked No. 20 in the world, Fritz has a chance to boost his stock with a title at Indian Wells. 

Looking to derail Fritz is Rublev, who dusted off Grigor Dimitrov, 7-5, 6-2, on Friday. The 24-year-old Russian is also having a strong start to the year, reaching the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and winning his 10th career title at the Dubai Championships in February. He's on a 13-match winning streak and hasn't lost any sets in Indian Wells. Fritz is aware he's going to have to make some tactical changes if he's to pull off an upset.

Marcio Jose Sanchez/Associated Press

"I'm going to have to be a lot more solid from the baseline," Fritz said, per ATPTour.com. "I think I will be because I know that I have to be. I think all the matches I've played so far, I knew that I can get away with...not ripping everything from the baseline. With him, there's no question about it."

Fritz also mentioned his serve as key to beating Rublev, and it seems like he'll be able to count on it as a weapon on Saturday. He ripped 14 aces past Kecmanovic in their quarterfinal matchup. 

On paper, Rublev should win this matchup as the higher-ranked player and with the better form to start the year. However, Fritz certainly won't make it easy on him as he looks to reach his first Masters 1000 series final.


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