The comparisons with the tennis superstars Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who have been dominant for years, are promptly present again. In an impressive way, exceptional talent Carlos Alcaraz won the title at the Masters 1000 tournament in Indian Wells and was crowned number one in the tennis world again just a few weeks after his comeback.
With the 6: 3, 6: 2 against the Russian top player Daniil Medvedev, the still only 19-year-old Spaniard made a statement and surprisingly won the final in the Californian desert.
After his triumph at the US Open in September, the Spaniard became the youngest number one in history. Now he's right back at the top of the world rankings - and is ahead of the Serbian record Grand Tournament winner Novak Djokovic, who was absent in Indian Wells. And that after missing the start of the season with an injury. The impression is reinforced that not only can the future belong to him, but that Alcaraz can also dominate the present - at least alongside Djokovic - in the long term.
"It's a dream come true for me. Again," said Alcaraz. "To fill the number one again is crazy for me. Of course it's a great feeling to stand in front of such an outstanding player like Novak," he said. He commented mischievously on his performances in the past two weeks: "I would say it was the perfect tournament."
Medvedev without a chance against Alcaraz
Alcaraz combines playfulness, power and mental strength and gave the former US Open winner Medvedev no chance in just 70 minutes. Alcaraz had previously described the opponent as the best player in the world at the moment, after all Medvedev had celebrated three titles in a row. Alexander Zverev from Hamburg lost to Medvedev in the round of 16 at Indian Wells. In the final, Alcaraz abruptly ended the Russian's streak of 19 consecutive wins.
The milestones that Alcaraz achieves are multiplying. For the first time since the Swiss Federer, who has since retired, in 2017, the Spanish powerhouse did not drop a sentence on the way to the Indian Wells title. The young Spaniard is also now the first tennis pro since Nadal (6) to win at least three Masters 1000 titles as a teenager. It is the most important category after the Grand Slam tournaments, last year Alcaraz won in Miami and Madrid at this tournament level. Again and again, the ATP statistics spit out plenty of superlatives about Alcaraz. This was also the case after the second round in Indian Wells, when he celebrated his 100th victory, only the legendary John McEnroe had managed that faster.
He doesn't let the pressure get to him, Alcaraz explained one of his secrets of success, which is why he shows such a great level: "I feel like I'm under no pressure, I enjoy it, I play relaxed."
Alcaraz favorite for Miami title
In Miami, too, the way to the title in this form should only lead via Alcaraz. In Florida he is immediately challenged again. Because only if he defends his title there will he remain number one ahead of Djokovic at the beginning of April. The next Masters 1000 tournament starts on Wednesday. Djokovic, who climbed back to the top of the ATP rankings after winning the Australian Open, missed the $10.1 million hard-court tournament in southern California because he is not vaccinated against the coronavirus. Also for Miami he did not get an exemption for entry into the USA.
"Of course, winning a tournament gives you a lot of self-confidence," said Alcaraz. "I'm playing great. I'm looking forward to playing this level in Miami too."
It is remarkable how Alcaraz dominates again after his injury problems. At the end of last season he sustained an abdominal muscle injury. He missed the Australian Open due to a muscle injury in his leg. He didn't have any settling-in problems after his return. In Buenos Aires, he returned with the title at his first tournament of the season, before moving on to the final in Rio de Janeiro. Tournament director Tommy Haas said at the beginning of the event in Indian Wells that the tennis world need not worry in the future as the end of the era of the Big Three with Federer, Nadal and Djokovic is approaching. After all, Carlos Alcaraz "got everyone off their seats last year".