Alcaraz clinches Indian Wells title, returns to World No. 1

by IANS |

Indian Wells (USA), March 20 (IANS) Continuing his dominant run, Carlos Alcaraz won his maiden Indian Wells title with an easy 6-3, 6-2 win over Daniil Medvedev in the final, here.

The 19-year-old Spaniard, who did not lose a set in six Indian Wells matches, will return to World No. 1 in Monday's ATP Rankings behind his trophy triumph.

"It means a lot to me. To recover the No. 1 [ranking] is crazy for me," Alcaraz said after wrapping up the win in a rapid one hour, 10 minutes on Sunday.

"But especially to lift the trophy here for me means a lot... I love this tournament. I really enjoy my time here and of course I felt the love from the people from day one. For me, it's amazing to complete these 10 days like this," he added.

Now a three-time ATP Masters 1000 champion as the reigning titlist in Miami and Madrid, Alcaraz is the ninth and youngest man to win both legs of the Sunshine Double -- Indian Wells and Miami -- in his career. He joins countryman Rafael Nadal as the only players to win at least three Masters 1000 titles as a teenager, with Nadal having won six before turning 20.

On the other hand, Medvedev saw his 19-match and three-tournament winning streak come to a close as Alcaraz expertly handled the windy desert conditions, the top seed's patient but aggressive game plan reaping rewards with an immediate break in both sets. After racing to a 3-0 lead in the opening set, Alcaraz won the first 10 points of the second on the way to a 4-0 advantage.

Alcaraz hit 18 winners to Medvedev's five and won 10 of 13 net points in an all-action victory. The Spaniard also found success with his patented drop shot time and again, taking advantage of his opponent's deep court position.

"Of course winning a tournament gives you a lot of confidence [entering Miami]," the Spaniard said, looking ahead to the year's second ATP Masters 1000 event.

"I'm playing great. Of course today, the conditions today were pretty tough. Of course Daniil didn't play at his best, obviously. All I can say is I'm really happy with my performance, the way that I [was] playing this tournament. I'm looking forward to playing at this level in Miami as well," he added.

Alcaraz and Medvedev did not meet in 2022 despite both men debuting as World No. 1 and spending 16 weeks atop the ATP Rankings during the year. Their lone previous ATP Head to Head meeting came at Wimbledon in 2021, when Medvedev cruised to a straight-sets win.

By turning the tables for a straight-sets win of his own on Sunday, Alcaraz became the first Indian Wells champion to claim the title without losing a set since Roger Federer in 2017, and the first to do so in at least six matches since Nadal in 2007.

With his final victory, he improves to 8-3 in tour-level finals, including 3-0 at ATP Masters 1000, and 14-9 overall against Top 10 opponents.

Medvedev, who was at No. 12 in the ATP Rankings as recently as 12 February, will re-enter the Top 5 on Monday after he backed up consecutive titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai with his Indian Wells final run. The 27-year-old was playing in his 19th tour-level final at an unprecedented 19th different event.

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