Alcaraz Moves Into Indian Wells QFs After Draper Retirement

Carlos Alcaraz moved to within three victories of a return to World No. 1 after advancing to the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals for the second straight year on Tuesday night. The Spaniard led Jack Draper 6-2, 2-0 when the Briton was forced to retire with an abdominal injury that first affected him late in his Monday win against Andy Murray.

After wishing his opponent a speedy recovery, Alcaraz gave a positive review of his performance in the 46 minutes of play on the night: “I felt the ball really well. I’m really happy with that part,” he assessed. “I would say I returned well, I hit great shots. I finished the match with confidence in my shots, to come into the next round with more confidence.”

The pair’s second ATP Head2Head meeting started with all the fireworks of their previous matchup, which Alcaraz narrowly won in a tight third set last October in Basel. Both men produced highlight-reel shots early, but Alcaraz had more success in the routine points as he took an early 2-0 lead, escaping 0/40 in his opening service game with timely power plays.

As the match wore on, Draper’s abdominal issue hampered his serve — which dropped well below 100 mph — and his movement. After a visit from the physio in between sets, he won just one point in the first two games of the second set before retiring to give Alcaraz his 101st tour-level win.

After a respectful handshake and some warm words at the net, Alcaraz wrote well-wishes on the TV camera: “Get well soon Jack!!” He will next face Felix Auger-Aliassime, who saved six match points to stun Tommy Paul in a third-set tie-break later on Tuesday night.

Despite the pressure of being the tournament’s top seed as he chases the top spot in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, the in-demand Alcaraz continues to take it all in stride — though it’s not as easy as it looks.

“Honestly, the nerves are there. But you have to handle that, and I would say I handled the nerves really well,” the 19-year-old said. “That’s the goal for me, to show that I’m relaxed, to play relaxed. It’s something that I am practising for as well, to play my game, relaxing. If I lose, I lose, but I want to feel relaxed on court.”

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