After winning his first Indian Wells title on Sunday, Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz congratulated himself on completing a “perfect tournament” and regaining the world number one ranking from the absent Novak Djokovic, whom he hoped “to have back very soon”.
The Serbian star was unable to travel to the Indian Wells and Miami Masters 1000 as U.S. authorities did not grant him the special permission he requested to enter without being vaccinated against the coronavirus.
“I really wanted to play with Novak again,” Alcaraz said at the press conference following his resounding 6-3, 6-2 victory in the final over Russia’s Daniil Medvedev.
“We miss him on the circuit and I hope he comes back very, very soon,” stressed the Spaniard, who beat the Serb in their only meeting, which occurred in May 2022 in the Madrid Masters 1000 semifinals.
“It would be incredible to play against him again (…) Novak is one of the best players in the world and I always say that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best,” he stressed.
The 19-year-old Alcaraz reached the top of the ATP for the first time last September when he won his first Grand Slam at the U.S. Open.
The first reign of Alcaraz, the youngest number one in ATP history, ended at the end of January when he was sidelined by injury at the Australian Open.
“Every player wants to be number one and for me it’s a dream come true again,” he said.
“To be in front of players as big as Novak, of the best players, it’s an incredible feeling,” said Alcaraz, who to stay on top is obliged to defend at the Miami Masters 1000 the title achieved in 2022.
“I’m going to fight to keep it as long as possible but achieving it all year is going to be practically impossible,” he acknowledged.
The prodigy from El Palmar (Murcia) described his conquest of Indian Wells, the first without conceding a set since 2017, as “the perfect tournament” and admitted he was expecting a better version of fellow former number one Medvedev on Sunday.
“The conditions today were not easy, it was very windy. Daniil didn’t play his best version, it’s obvious, and I have taken advantage of those moments when he has made more mistakes than necessary,” he said.
“I don’t think my tennis has improved a lot in the last year but I have improved in not feeling pressure, playing relaxed. That’s for me the most important thing (…) that’s why I’m playing at a good level,” said Alcaraz, who tries to keep out of his head his records and comparisons with the first steps of the ‘Big 3’ (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic).
“You can’t avoid looking at the stats because they’re everywhere, but you can forget them quickly,” he said. “I don’t think about breaking precocious records, just fulfilling every dream I have, as it was to win here, in Miami, in a Grand Slam.”