Spanish teenager Alcaraz dethrones Djokovic to become world number one

Alcaraz snapped Dubai champion Medvedev's 19-match win streak with a 6-3 6-2 rout in the Indian Wells Masters final

By Reuters

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Carlos Alcaraz of Spain with the winners trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final. — AFP
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain with the winners trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev in the final. — AFP

Published: Mon 20 Mar 2023, 10:55 AM

Top seed Carlos Alcaraz snapped Daniil Medvedev's 19-match win streak with a 6-3 6-2 rout in the Indian Wells Masters final on Sunday that will see him leapfrog Novak Djokovic and return to world number one in the rankings.

Alcaraz did not drop a set across six matches in the tournament and his performance in the California desert gives him an added boost of confidence ahead of his Miami Open title defence.

"I'm playing great. Of course today, the conditions today were pretty tough. Of course Daniil didn't play at his best, obviously," said Alcaraz.

"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 this level in Miami as well."

Alcaraz enjoyed a dream start to the matchup of first-time Indian Wells finalists as he got an early break for a 2-0 lead and dropped just six points on serve, racing through the opening set in 36 minutes.

Russian fifth seed Medvedev, who was looking to add another title to the ones he collected in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai over the last month, was unable to stop the bleeding and had no answer for the Spaniard's brilliance the rest of the way.

"It was a surprising week in many aspects," said Medvedev. "The ankle, the thumb, the tennis, wind, whatever. But we almost made it. ... I will try to be better next time."

The victory marked the third ATP Masters 1000 trophy for 19-year-old Alcaraz, who became the youngest world number one last September when he won the U.S. Open and held that spot for 20 weeks until Djokovic reclaimed it in January.

Djokovic withdrew from the draw for the Indian Wells event in an indication that his application for a Covid-19 vaccine waiver to enter the US might have failed. The Serbian has also withdrawn from the Miami Open.

Rybakina sets sights on top ranking

Meanwhile, Elena Rybakina said she was targeting the world number one ranking after the Wimbledon champion defeated Aryna Sabalenka on Sunday to capture the Indian Wells crown for her first title of the season.

Rybakina, who was born in Moscow but now represents Kazakhstan, missed out on 2,000 ranking points last year after Wimbledon was penalised for banning Russian and Belarusian players due to Russia's conflict with Ukraine.

Her 7-6(11) 6-4 victory over the second-ranked Sabalenka in a reversal of the Australian Open final lifted her to a career-high number seven and the 23-year-old said she was determined to push on.

"I think the biggest goal is of course to be number one," Rybakina said. "There's still long way to go. So this is the end goal, I'd say.

"For now, I'm seven, but you know how quickly the rankings change. So I need to always focus on the next tournament I play. I'm just trying not to think so much about the rankings."

Rybakina's victory over Sabalenka followed her impressive win over Iga Swiatek, marking the first time a player had beaten the women's world number one and two in the semis and final at a tournament since Garbine Muguruza in Cincinnati six years ago.

"I didn't think about this, but good stat," said Rybakina, who picked up her fourth career title.

"I don't know what to say. When I come to play against anyone, I try not to think about the rankings.

"I just want to do my best. Yeah, in the end, try to win."

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