ATP

Alcaraz hails 'perfect tournament' and eyes Djokovic match-up after reclaiming No.1 rank with Indian Wells title

By Sports Desk March 20, 2023

New world number one Carlos Alcaraz says he played "perfect" in Sunday's final demolition of Daniil Medvedev to cap a "perfect tournament" as he lifted the Indian Wells title for the first time.

Despite Medvedev coming into Sunday's decider on a 19-match winning streak, Alcaraz dominated 6-3 6-2 to win in 72 minutes.

Alcaraz's Indian Wells triumph was his third ATP Masters 1000 crown from three finals, not dropping a set in any of those deciders.

The 19-year-old Spaniard went through the Indian Wells Open without dropping a set and reflected that it was a "perfect" fortnight for him.

"It feels amazing to lift the trophy here [and] to recover the number one," Alcaraz told reporters, having reclaimed the top rank from Novak Djokovic due to his victory.

"It has been the perfect tournament. It was a goal for me, this tournament that I really wanted to win. For me, it's amazing."

The lopsided nature of Alcaraz's victory over Medvedev in the final caught many by surprise, hitting 19-4 winners against the in-form fifth seed.

"Honestly I didn’t expect that," Alcaraz said. "I expected a tough match but I played perfect. I said before against Daniil you have to play your best and tactically at your best level as well. I did perfect today. That's why it looks easy but it wasn’t."

Alcaraz added he was delighted to reclaim the number one rank which he had lost after Djokovic won the 2023 Australian Open which he missed due to injury.

Djokovic was unable to participate at Indian Wells due to being unvaccinated for COVID-19, with the pair actually not facing off at any events this year.

Alcaraz returned from abdominal and hamstring injuries last month at the Argentina Open and Rio Open before competing at Indian Wells, while Djokovic was in action at the Dubai Tennis Championships. The next opportunity for the pair to face off as at April's Monte Carlo Masters.

"Novak is one of the best players in the world," Alcaraz said. "That's obvious. I always say, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. I really wanted to play against Novak again. We miss him on tour and hopefully to have him back very, very soon."

Alcaraz added: "It feels great to be back on the number one. Of course, every player on the ATP wants to be the number one. For me, it's a dream come true again. Obviously being in front of such great players like Novak, the top player, it's an amazing feeling."

Despite Djokovic being unable to compete at Indian Wells, Medvedev said he felt Alcaraz's return to the top rank was a true number one.

"One hundred per cent," Medvedev said. "It's unfortunate Novak can't play all the tournaments. If you get injured, Rafa is injured for some time, we cannot say if Rafa isn’t injured he would be number one, because we cannot know. Same about Novak.

"For sure if he was able to play last year and this year all the tournaments there is a possibility that the rankings would be different but Carlos is deservedly number one, he won more points than everybody else in the last 52 weeks and he was also year-end number one last year."

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    Richard Krajicek believes it will hurt Carlos Alcaraz's career if he compares himself too much to Rafael Nadal.

    Alcaraz is being hailed as Spanish tennis' next big hope with Nadal nearing the end of a hugely decorated career, one that has seen him win 22 grand slam titles, two behind Novak Djokovic at the top of the all-time list.

    Alcaraz himself has claimed two grand slams at the age of 20, winning the US Open in 2022 before following it up by claiming Wimbledon glory the following year.

    Despite the comparisons, Krajicek hopes Alcaraz doesn't think too much about comparing himself with his countryman Nadal.

    "If he starts to think about it or live up to it or try to beat it, then it will hinder his career, I think, a little bit," said Krajicek, speaking to Stats Perform at the Rotterdam Open. "But no, his name is Carlos Alcaraz. He said it himself. And he's not a new Nadal.

    "Nadal is a legend. And he's going to do what he has to do. And I think by winning two grand slams, being number one, I don't think he [Alcaraz] feels any pressure or like, I have to do this or this.

    "He's proved so much already. I don't think he has too much to prove. And he's just playing for the love of the game. He's going to win many more grand slams and be number one for many weeks also."

    Krajicek thinks Alcaraz's all-round game has the potential to take him to the top, if he hasn't reached it already.

    "I like everything about his game," Krajicek added. "I mean he's physically good, he's fast, I love his mentality on the court."

    "Also like Rafa, [he is] a very humble person and he can do it all. He can play serve and volley, he plays from the base, he's got a big forehand, he's got a very good touch on the drop shot, he can volley."

    Krajicek pointed to Alcaraz's affection for the sport of tennis as a particularly infectious part of his game.

    "He really loves the game," Krajicek continued. 

    "I think when he played the US Open, there was a huge point in the final and it was a really important point. And they were playing for number one in the world.

    "It was one set all, and Alcaraz loses the point, but the point was unbelievable. And Alcaraz smiles to his box like, 'Wow, I just played a great point, and I love this game'.

    "So for me, then I became a fan. I'm like, 'Wow, you really love this game'. That's so great to see."

  • Krajicek: It is a 'matter of time' until Alcaraz is undisputed number one Krajicek: It is a 'matter of time' until Alcaraz is undisputed number one

    It is only a "matter of time" until Carlos Alcaraz is the number one tennis player in the world, according to Richard Krajicek.

    At the age of 20, Alcaraz has already won Wimbledon and the US Open, becoming world number one in September 2022.

    He was defeated in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open to kick off this year's grand slams, though, failing to win any of the three tournaments in which he has played in 2024.

    However, former world number four Krajicek believes Alcaraz is on his way to becoming the best, despite dropping to number two in the world rankings.

    "His potential is very high," Krajicek told Stats Perform. "I think he's the future number one.

    "I'm not saying anything special because he's beaten everybody. He beat Djokovic three times out of the last four times they played. He beat Medvedev from being two sets to love down, which shows how mentally and physically strong he is.

    "So for me, it's a matter of time until he becomes number one. I think he can play on all surfaces, maybe clay is his worst surface but all the other surfaces you would say he's a title contender."

    With the 'Big Three' of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic already retired or nearing the end of their storied careers, there's been much discussion over who will fill their boots.

    Alcaraz has already proved his abilities, while 22-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner claimed Australian Open glory to kick off this year having reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon in 2023.

    Krajicek feels those two will lead the way for the next era of men's tennis, saying: "It's difficult to say who the next generation will be, but I think Alcaraz and Sinner will have a good rivalry. They already have played unbelievable matches.

    "Of course, Alcaraz has already been number one, won two Grand Slams. Sinner is now slowly coming also to that level. He is number four, maybe number three after this week."

    However, Krajicek has reservations over whether the likes of Alcaraz and Sinner can reach the legendary status of the 'Big Three'.

    "To really have the same kind of rivalry, I don't know if that's possible," Krajicek added. "I mean, together, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic won 66 Grand Slams. That's incredible. In every Grand Slam, they were in the final or winning. It's just amazing.

    "I don't know if it's possible to have two players or three players that basically win every Grand Slam they play. But I believe those two are going to be the two biggest names for the next couple years."

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