SPO_240315 ALCARAZ1-1710498943071
Spain's Carlos Alcaraz reacts to a swarm of bees during his men's quarter-final against Germany's Alexander Zverev during the Indian Wells on Thursday. Image Credit: AFP

Indian Wells: Carlos Alcaraz looked back at his best as he swatted aside a swarm of bees and world No 6 Alexander Zverev to reach the semi-finals at Indian Wells on Thursday, setting up a clash with the in-form Jannik Sinner.

Get exclusive content with Gulf News WhatsApp channel

The world No 2 took the interruption to clear the bees from the court in his stride before racing past Zverev 6-3, 6-1 in little more than 90 minutes to keep his title defence on track.

Stung on the forehead

Zverev did not play badly but Alcaraz’s all-court game was just too good, the 20-year-old Spaniard sealing the victory by breaking the German for the fourth time and taking his winning streak in the Californian desert to 10 matches.

“It was strange, I’ve never seen something like that at a tennis match,” twice major champion Alcaraz said of the invasion of bees, during which he was stung on the forehead before heading for cover.

SPO_240315 ALCARAZ-1710498945476
Carlos Alcaraz celebrates his victory over Alexander Zverev. Image Credit: Reuters

“I’m not going to lie, I’m a little bit afraid of the bees. Once the match started again, I managed to stay away from the bees and do the things I needed to do.”

Italian Sinner earlier continued his perfect start to the season by cruising past Jiri Lehecka 6-3, 6-3 to improve his win-loss record this year to 16-0.

Slow start

A windy, cool day did little to slow down the hottest player on the men’s tour as Sinner was in control throughout, facing a single break chance the entire contest while his opponent piled up unforced errors.

“In the morning, it was really, really windy,” Sinner said in his court-side interview. “The first set was tough to handle.

“He has huge potential so I was really aware of every point that I made and in a way I am just happy because I make the semi-finals last year and this year I have again a chance to play in the semis in one of the greatest tournaments we have throughout the whole year.”

SPO_240315 SINNER-1710498940818
Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner extended his winning run to 19 games after eliminating Jiri Lehecka in the last eight stage. Image Credit: AFP

Giant-killing run

Lehecka reached his first Masters 1000 quarter-final with upset wins over fifth seed Andrey Rublev and 11th seed Stefanos Tsitsipas but had no answers for the lanky Australian Open champion.

The third seed quickly had his Czech opponent under pressure by collecting the first break in the third game with a massive forehand winner before closing out the set with a second break.

It was much the same business-like approach in the second as Sinner again claimed the early break to get 3-1 ahead and he held serve on the way to a 19th straight win including three from the end of last season.

SPO_240315 Tommy Paul-1710498938452
Tommy Paul kept the home hopes alive by knocking out Casper Ruud to set up a meeting with Daniil Medvedev. Image Credit: AFP

High-quality opening set

Local hope Tommy Paul also reached the semi-finals with a 6-2, 1-6, 6-3 win over Casper Ruud and will take on Australian Open runner-up Daniil Medvedev, who powered past Holger Rune 7-5, 6-4 to stay on course for his first title of the year.

Medvedev claimed a high-quality opening set and came from a break down in a tense second, during which he was struck on the body by a Rune backhand on the first point, before wearing down the young Dane for the victory.