Desert domination: Alcaraz tops Medvedev to repeat as Indian Wells champion

Carlos Alcaraz in action. File photo

World number two Carlos Alcaraz cruised home in a 7-6 (7/5), 6-1 victory over Daniil Medvedev on Sunday to win a second straight Indian Wells ATP title, both coming at the Russian’s expense.

Alcaraz captured his first title since Wimbledon last July and became the first repeat winner at Indian Wells since Novak Djokovic won three straight titles from 2014-16.

For the 20-year-old Spaniard, 12 days in the California desert proved just what he needed after a stuttering start to the season, which included a quarter-final exit at the Australian Open and an ankle injury that forced him out of his opening match at Rio de Janeiro in February.

“A lot of doubts for me,” he said of his mindset coming in amidst his longest title drought since he burst through for his first Grand Slam title at the 2022 US Open.

“But once I stepped on the court the first round, I started to feel better and after every match I was feeling better and better.”

As he did last year, Alcaraz denied Medvedev’s bid to capture the only one of the ATP’s six hardcourt Masters 1000 titles he has yet to win.

More importantly, after a week in which he ended Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner’s 19-match winning streak, Alcaraz was looking forward with renewed confidence to next week’s hardcourt tournament in Miami and beyond.

“Obviously winning tournaments helps a lot coming to the next ones,” said Alcaraz, whose tournament included not only a semi-final victory over red-hot Sinner but also a brush with a swarm of bees in his quarter-final win over Alexander Zverev — the man who ousted him in Melbourne.

“Obviously winning a Masters 1000 again — it is a really difficult tournament to win — gives you extra motivation to keep going, extra, extra confidence for Miami right now and for what’s next.

“For me it’s amazing to lift this amazing trophy again, a really beautiful one,” added Alcaraz, who joined compatriot Rafael Nadal as the only players to win five Masters 1000 titles before turning 21.

World number four Medvedev, who was hindered by an ankle injury in their 2023 title clash, got off to a hot start in this one, parlaying a service break into a 3-0 first-set lead.

But Alcaraz produced a blazing forehand passing shot to break Medvedev in the fifth game and from there they dueled to the tie-breaker with entertaining rallies spiced by drop shots, volleys and lobs.

Alcaraz had fans out of their seats in one rally, when he started to let a ball go by but, seeing it was heading in, managed to reach it and salvage the point.

Trailing 5-2 in the tie-breaker, Australian Open runner-up Medvedev battled back to 5-5, but Alcaraz claimed the set when the Russian sent a forehand wide and from there he was in complete control.

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