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Alcaraz triumphs in exhibition thriller against Nadal as both stars gear up for Indian Wells

Posted : 04 March 2024

Preparing for the ATP Indian Wells Masters, Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal engaged in a spirited exhibition match in Las Vegas on Sunday, with Alcaraz claiming victory 3-6, 6-4, 14-12. The matchup at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, broadcasted by Netflix, served as a fitness test for both Spanish stars. Nadal, a 22-time Grand Slam champion, endured a hip injury that kept him out for most of the previous year, and despite feeling "much better than expected," he withdrew from this season's first Grand Slam in Melbourne due to a small muscle tear.


Nadal's comeback was further delayed as he opted out of the Qatar Open in February, citing his unpreparedness to compete. Despite this, the Spanish veteran showcased resilience in Las Vegas, saving five match points in the match tiebreak against Alcaraz. This performance provides encouragement for Nadal as he gears up for Indian Wells, a tournament where he has been triumphant three times, finishing as the runner-up in 2022.


Scheduled to play his first-round match at Indian Wells on Thursday, Nadal's exhibition match demonstrated his determination and readiness for the upcoming competition. On the other hand, Alcaraz, currently ranked second in the world, will enjoy a first-round bye in the California desert. The 20-year-old Spaniard, facing injury concerns after retiring from the Rio Open and experiencing setbacks at the Australian Open and Buenos Aires, aims to defend his Indian Wells title and become the first man to do so since Novak Djokovic's three-peat from 2014-2016.


While Alcaraz's recent ATP performances have faced challenges, including his early exit at the Rio Open due to a rolled ankle, the young talent is eager to rebound after his sensational Wimbledon triumph over Djokovic last July. The exhibition match and Nadal's resilience offer insights into the competitive spirit both players bring to the Indian Wells stage.


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