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Carlos Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev had a memorable quarter-final encounter at Indian Wells on Thursday, but the bee invasion didn’t stop the Spaniard from putting in a top-class performance (6-3, 6-1), before facing Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals.

He fielded some questions after the match, which featured one of the most unusual scenes to unfold on a tennis court in recent memory. 

Is this the most unusual match you’ve ever played?
“Without hesitation, it’s the most unusual match I’ve ever played in my career. I’ve never experienced anything like it. That’s why I think I’ll remember this match. I think everyone will remember it.”

Can you tell us what happened? Did you get stung on the forehead?
“I’d just won the first point of the third game of the match and was ready to serve. I saw bees all around me, but I thought there were just a few, not that many. Then I looked up at the sky and there were thousands of them flying around, some getting stuck in my hair, coming towards me! It was crazy. One of them touched me. I tried to get away from them, but it was impossible. They were in my hair, so I ran. I’m a bit scared of them. I had to stay safe and I was running everywhere.”

Before resuming the match, you told the supervisor that you were still seeing bees around you. You weren’t reassured, yet you played a great match. How did you manage to stay focused on the match in spite of everything?
“When we came back, there were still a few bees in the corner of the court. We couldn’t get going again. In the warm-up, I hit a few balls and there were bees all around me. It was hard to stay focused on the ball, I was more focused on the bees and staying away from them. That’s why we stopped several times (the warm-up), before resuming the match. But afterwards, yes, I tried to forget about it. That first game was important for me. I surprised myself by managing to concentrate on the match and not on the bees. It was a good start for me. After that, I played very good tennis from start to finish.”

Your opponent in the semi-finals will be Jannik Sinner. Despite the young age of both of you (20 years old Alcaraz, 22 years old Sinner), it’s already a great rivalry in world tennis. How do you feel about this match?
“Honestly, I don’t yet know how I’m going to approach it. He’s undoubtedly the best player in the world at the moment. Incredible level, no defeats this year. I heard Tommy Paul say something that made me laugh, when he said that he plays ‘absolutely naked’ [an expression to say that he plays at an incredible level]. It’s going to be a very tough match, a big challenge for me. But facing him will also allow me to see what my level is. It’s obviously going to be the most complicated match I’ve played this year.”

This post is originally from L’Équipe