Spanish superstar Rafael Nadal turned back the fierce challenge of young comptriot Carlos Alcaraz 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Saturday to book an ATP Indian Wells Masters title clash with American Taylor Fritz.
Nadal, who claimed a record-setting 21st Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, improved to 20-0 in 2022, pushed all the way through three hours and 12 minutes by the 18-year-old aiming to follow in the footsteps of his childhood idol.
Fritz advanced with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over world number seven Andrey Rublev. Nadal won his only prior meeting with the 24-year-old American in the final at Acapulco in 2020.
Nadal's experience was key in a see-saw battle in tricky winds that strengthened in the second set, sending debris skittering across the court and at one point forcing a readjustment of the billowing net late in the second set.
The array of shots and athleticism that have already stamped Alcaraz a star were on full display, but a tendency to go for too much in the key moments may have contributed to some damaging errors.