Indian Wells | Bees momentarily disrupt Alcaraz’s progress.

The second Thursday of the Indian Wells Masters will certainly be remembered for its tennis and a freak of nature, the swarming of the Spidercam on Stadium 1 forcing players and spectators to evacuate the area while a beekeeper was found to deal with the unforeseen problem.

He's playing unbelievable, no losses this year. I really enjoy watching him play. So it's going to be a really difficult match. It's going to be a big challenge for me. Carlos Alcaraz

Fortunately, one was to hand within the Indian Wells Tennis Garden complex, but play was suspended for nearly two hours before Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev could resume their quarter final after only nine-minutes of play prior to the invasion.

“It was strange, I’ve never seen something like that on a tennis court,” Alcaraz, who was stung, said after the match. “When we ran out of the court, we were watching the bee invasion on the TV, and we laughed a lot about it. It was funny for me. It’s going to be remembered for that, not for the tennis!


A swarm of bees cover settle on the Spidercam

(Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

At first it was thought it was one pesky intruder as Alcaraz swung his racket protectively, but the stadium suddenly filled with the swarm congregating on the Spidercam which was quickly raised as high as possible to draw them away from the public.

“I saw the sky and there were thousands [of bees] flying, stuck in my hair, going to me. It was crazy,” Alcaraz said.

“Play suspended due to bee invasion1” announced umpire Mohamed Lahyani as he officially called time-out and then got stung in the head for his efforts!

Beekeeper Lance Davis, then singlehandedly and unmasked, removed the swarm using a vacuum cleaner to transport them all to a new hive, unharmed.


Carlos Alcaraz eventually dominated his opponent to reach his semi-final place

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

The delay was one-hour and 48-minutes, but it didn’t affect Alcaraz who, on the players’ return to the court, broke Zverev in the German’s first service game and maintained that momentum, ripping forehand winners at will to secure his allotted semi-final place after 89-minutes of actual play. 6-2 6-1, and a meeting with the in-form Jannick Sinner, the Australian Open champion.

.”We decided to warm up again and I saw that the bees weren’t around anymore. Just one or two,” Alcaraz said. “So I tried to not think about the bees anymore. I tried to stay focussed on the ball, stay focussed on the point.

“I’m really, really happy with the level that I’m playing,” said Alcaraz, who committed just 13 unforced errors, compared to Zverev’s 26. “The way I’m using the court I think is really important for me, for my game. The opponent doesn’t know what’s going to come next. Probably I’m going to return some inside the court and in the deep parts. It’s kind of confusing for them, that’s my style, that’s my game.”

He will need all his guile and power, as well as remaining fully focused when he faces Sinner on Saturday as the outcome will decide which of them will be ranked No.2 in the world on Monday, the defending champion Alcaraz or the current No.3 Sinner.

Sinner is already the highest ranked Italian in his country’s history and has enjoyed a perfect start to his 2024 season, winning all 16 of his matches and claiming the first major of the season.


Jannik Sinner dispatched Jiri Lehecka comfortably

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

And so far has not dropped a set in the Californian desert which includes a comfortable 6-3 6-3 win over the 22-year-old Czech achieved in just 84-minutes and, based on their record from previous encounters, the 22-year-old Italian leads his Spanish rival, two years his junior, 4-3.

“I don’t know how I’m going to approach the match. He’s the best tennis player in the world right now, without a doubt,” Alcaraz said of their forthcoming meeting. “He’s playing unbelievable, no losses this year. I really enjoy watching him play. So it’s going to be a really difficult match. It’s going to be a big challenge for me.”

Meanwhile in the bottom half of the draw, the biggest upset of the day came courtesy of Tommy Paul, the last of the strong American contingent, who required two-hours and 9-minutes to overcome Casper Ruud, the 9th seeded Norwegian, 6-2 1-6 6-3.


Tommy Paulheld his nerve to oust Casper Ruud and keep home hopes alive

(Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The American advanced to his second Masters semi-final and hopes to go all the way and emulate Andre Agassi’s victory of 2001, the last time a home player has lifted the trophy.

“I am really pumped with how I am playing,” Paul said. “I like how I am playing on the pressure points, on the big points. I am excited for another match.”

In what was a topsy-turvy quarter final, Paul played close to his best though Ruud responded strongly in the second but couldn’t maintain that level when his opponent rediscovered his form in the decider.

“Casper came out in the second set and changed the momentum,” Paul admitted. “His energy was way better, and I was playing the match on his terms in the second. I think in the third game of the third set he had some chances and it was tough game to get out of and it kind of set the tone. He got the break back, and I could have got down on myself but think I did a good job regrouping.”

Paul, the 17th seed saved two break points when serving out the match, sealing victory on his second match point and will now try to reach his maiden Masters 1000 final where he faces Daniil Medvedev after the Russian eliminated the seventh seeded Holger Rune of Denmark, 7-5 6-4.


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