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Alcaraz returns to world No. 1 after beating Medvedev for Indian Wells title

Carlos Alcaraz could not have asked for a more perfect BNP Paribas Open.

Not only did the 19-year-old lift the Indian Wells trophy for the first time, but he also returned to No. 1 in the world.

In fact, Alcaraz’s trek to the title was literally perfect. He did not drop a single set throughout the entire tournament, cruising to wins over Thanasi Kokkinakis, Tallon Griekspoor, Jack Draper, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Jannik Sinner, and Daniil Medvedev. Prior to Sunday’s final, Medvedev had won 19 matches and three titles in a row. Nonetheless, the former world No. 1 was no match for Alcaraz. The Spaniard rolled 6-3, 6-2 in just one hour and 10 minutes.

Alcaraz’s reward is a return trip to the top of the ATP rankings. He ended the 2022 campaign at No. 1 but missed the Nitto ATP Finals and the Australian Open as Novak Djokovic overtook him. Now it is Djokovic on the sidelines, watching Alcaraz regain the upper hand in this two-man game of musical chairs.

“It feels great to be back [at] No 1,” Alcaraz commented. “Of course every player on the ATP wants to be No 1, and for me it’s a dream come true again. Obviously being in front of such great players like Novak, like the top players, for me it’s an amazing feeling.”

Medvedev says it’s fully deserved despite Djokovic’s frequent absences from the tour.

“One hundred percent,” the 27-year-old answered when asked if Alcaraz is the true No. 1. “It’s for sure unfortunate Novak cannot play all the tournaments, and I’m sure everyone would love to see him play because it’s just good to see Novak play. But it is what it is, you know? If you get injured…[Rafael Nadal] is injured for some time. We also can say, well, ‘if Rafa would not be injured, he would be No 1.’ Well, we cannot know because he’s injured.

“Same about Novak. For sure if he would be able to play last year and this year all the tournaments, there is a possibility that the rankings would be different. But…. But…. There shouldn’t be [any] ‘buts.’

“Carlos is deservedly world No. 1. He won more points than everybody else in last 52 weeks, and that’s how rankings work. Yeah, he was also year-end No. 1 last year. That’s something I haven’t done, so I’ll try, for sure, in my career.”

Alcaraz will now try to complete the Sunshine Double by going back-to-back at the Miami Open. As the defending champion, that is exactly what he has to do if he wants to prolong his stay ahead of Djokovic at No. 1 in the world.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on Twitter at @Dimonator.