Carlos Alcaraz ends his drought in the desert with back-to-back Indian Wells titles

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz poses with the championship trophy after defeating Russia's Daniil Medvedev in the ATP-WTA Indian Wells Masters men's final. Picture: Frederic J. Brown / AFP

Spain's Carlos Alcaraz poses with the championship trophy after defeating Russia's Daniil Medvedev in the ATP-WTA Indian Wells Masters men's final. Picture: Frederic J. Brown / AFP

Published Mar 18, 2024


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.

For Alcaraz, however, it wasn't just about ending the drought, it was about rediscovering his joy in the game.

"It means a lot to me, lifting this trophy, winning this tournament, because I overcome a lot of problems in my head, a lot of problems physically," he said.

"Not that I didn't win a tournament since Wimbledon. For me, it doesn't matter, It's about the feelings ... It's about enjoying playing tennis, once I step on the court, putting my game. It's what only matters.

"That's why I'm really, really happy to lift this trophy, because I found myself at this tournament."

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," said Alcaraz, who joined compatriot Rafael Nadal as the only players to win five Masters 1000 titles before turning 21.

Extra motivation

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 duelled 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 lob go by but, seeing it was heading in, managed to reach it and salvage the point.

"I'm trying to do that kind of points," Alcaraz said. "It gives me extra motivation."

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.

"He managed in the first set at one moment to raise his level," Medvedev said. "I kind of managed to be there and to try to catch his level, but I was just a little bit down.

"In the end, this down was going down, down, down, and he was going up, up, up.

"So the result is a fair result for the match that it was. But I'm happy," Medvedev added. "Last time I managed to (reach the final in Indian Wells) I won Miami -- so that's what I'm going to try to do."