Tennis-Alcaraz 'not surprised' by quick return from injuries

Mar 16, 2023; Indian Wells, CA, USA; Carlos Alcaraz (ESP) celebrates after he won his quarterfinal match defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) in the BNP Paribas Open at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

(Reuters) - Carlos Alcaraz said he wanted to emulate Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic by winning titles straight after coming back from injury, with the world number two closing in on the Indian Wells crown with his win over Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday.

Last month, Alcaraz claimed his first title since last year's U.S. Open by winning in Buenos Aires - his first tournament after more than three months out due to abdominal and hamstring injuries.

The Spaniard beat Canadian Auger-Aliassime to reach the semi-finals of Indian Wells on Thursday, weeks after pulling out of an ATP 500 event in Acapulco with a strained hamstring.

"I look to the big players, Djokovic or Rafa, when they are coming from an injury and probably they have a great percentage to win the tournament after an injury," the 19-year-old told reporters.

"I looked at them a little bit when I was injured, you know, training. They motivated me to play a good game after an injury in the first tournaments.

"I was surprised when I won Buenos Aires, but right now, I'm not surprised at it."

Alcaraz next faces Jannik Sinner, just over six months since beating the Italian in a five-set thriller in the U.S. Open quarter-finals en route to winning his maiden Grand Slam title.

"I enjoyed that match, because I had to be really, really focused in every shot. I had to play my best," Alcaraz said.

"That's why Jannik is such a great player. Not only with great serve, great movements, it is because he pushes the opponent to the limit. Tries to play aggressive with great shots.

"For the opponent it is really tough to be focused mentally and physically during the whole match. That's what I love playing against him, that it pushes me to the limit."

(Reporting by Aadi Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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