Carlos Alcaraz Chases Novak Djokovic's Indian Wells Feat

Novak Djokovic is the last defending champion in Indian Wells

by Jovica Ilic
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Carlos Alcaraz Chases Novak Djokovic's Indian Wells Feat
© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

World no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz will seek the title defense in Indian Wells, chasing his first ATP title since July last year! Defending the crown at the first Masters 1000 event of the season has never been easy, with only five players winning back-to-back crowns in the desert.

The Spaniard will try to join the exclusive group and follow Pete Sampras, Michael Chang, Lleyton Hewitt, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. The Serb dominated in the desert between 2014 and 2016, lifting three consecutive trophies and standing as the last defending Indian Wells champion.

Carlos will have to work hard to repeat Novak's feat, struggling to find his A-game for half a year and heading to the USA with an ankle injury from Rio de Janeiro that forced him to retire.

Daniil Medvedev & Carlos Alcaraz, Indian Wells 2023© Julian Finney / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Alcaraz feels good ahead of the first Masters 1000 event of the season, seeking a better run than in Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro.

Carlos reached the Indian Wells semi-final in 2022 at 18, losing a thriller against Rafael Nadal and returning stronger a year ago. The Spaniard kicked off the 2023 campaign with a 6-3, 6-3 triumph over Thanasi Kokkinakis in an hour and 16 minutes.

The Spaniard served well, losing seven points in his games and mounting the pressure on the Aussie, who could not endure it. Kokkinakis played against nine break points and lost serve three times, propelling Alcaraz over the top.

Carlos landed 21 winners and 14 unforced errors, controlling the pace and beating Thanasi in the shortest and more extended exchanges. The young gun delivered one good hold after another in the opening set, securing an early break and taking the set 6-3.

The Spaniard grabbed a couple of breaks in the second set to seal the deal in style and move into the third round. Alcaraz faced Tallon Griekspoor in the third round and notched a 7-6, 6-3 win in an hour and 41 minutes, moving into the last 16.

Carlos saved both break points, forcing his rival to follow that pace to stay competitive. The Dutch player stayed in touch in the opener, reaching a tie break and losing it 6-4. Carlos broke in the second game of the second set and denied two break points in the next one to confirm the lead and move 3-0 ahead.

Carlos Alcaraz, Indian Wells 2023© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

Carlos Alcaraz is seeking the title defense in Indian Wells.

Griekspoor denied a match point on serve in the eighth game before Alcaraz sealed the deal with another fine hold at 5-3.

The Spaniard reached his second consecutive Indian Wells quarter-final after spending less than an hour on the court against Jack Draper, with the Briton retiring after trailing 6-2, 2-0 due to an abdominal injury. Carlos broke in the first game of the encounter and saved three break points in game two, never looking back.

The Briton suffered a break at the beginning of the second set and quit when the Spaniard held in game two. Alcaraz remained on the title course following a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Felix Auger-Aliassime in two hours, beating the Canadian for the first time in four encounters.

Carlos Alcaraz, Indian Wells 2023© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Gettum Images Sport

Carlos denied three out of four break points and clinched three breaks from 12 chances, doing enough to seal the deal in straight sets.

Alcaraz landed 26 winners and 16 unforced errors, having the upper hand in the mid-range rallies and notching a place in the last four. Carlos faced another young gun in a battle for a place in the final, ousting Jannik Sinner 7-6, 6-3 in an hour and 52 minutes.

The Spaniard became the third teenager with three Masters 1000 finals after Andrei Medvedev and Rafael Nadal. Alcaraz defeated Sinner for the third time in five matches, saving a set point in the 12th game of the opener and breaking the rival's resistance in the second set.

Carlos took four points more than Jannik in a tight clash, losing serve once and delivering two breaks from six chances to emerge at the top. The Spaniard made a reliable start, serving well and breaking in the fifth game for a 4-2 lead.

The Italian pulled the break back in game eight and earned a set point on the return in game 12. Carlos denied it with a volley winner and introduced a tie break, claiming it 7-4 with a backhand crosscourt winner. A teenager grabbed a break in the second game of the second set and served well in games three and five for a 4-1 advantage.

Sinner saved three break points in the sixth game, staying within one break deficit and extending his chances.

Carlos Alcaraz, Indian Wells 2023© Matthew Stockman / Staff - Getty Images Sport

However, Carlos landed a service winner in game seven for 5-2 and served for the triumph in game nine.

Alcaraz seized the second match point with a forehand down the line winner, setting the title clash against Daniil Medvedev. Carlos clinched his first Indian Wells title in style following a 6-3, 6-2 victory in 70 minutes, leaving the more experienced player far behind.

Thus, Alcaraz lifted the trophy without losing serve, adding 1000 ATP points to his name and becoming world no. 1. Medvedev played for his fourth consecutive title but could not match Alcaraz's pace. The young Spaniard dropped 12 points behind the initial shot, never facing a break point and mounting the pressure on the Russian.

Carlos earned three break points and seized them, forging the advantage and sealing the deal in style, becoming the second teenager with three Masters 1000 titles after Rafael Nadal.

Carlos Alcaraz Novak Djokovic Indian Wells
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