BNP Paribas Open: Carlos Alcaraz ends Daniil Medvedev's win streak to grab historical Indian Wells title
Even against the player on the hottest streak in the world, Carlos Alcaraz remained unstoppable Sunday.
Another chapter of the teenage Spanish tennis star’s rise was written with a 6-3, 6-2 victory in the BNP Paribas Open final over Russia’s Daniil Medvedev in front of more than 15,000 on a windy afternoon at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
With the title, Alcaraz, who entered the tournament ranked second in the world, will regain the No. 1 spot from Novak Djokovic on Monday. Alcaraz became the youngest No. 1 in the history of the ATP last year, then he finished the year in the top spot before Djokovic claimed it following a win at the Australian Open in January.
Djokovic, the 22-time Grand Slam champion, did not play at Indian Wells again this year. He was unable to receive an exemption to travel into the United States as a foreign traveler who is unvaccinated for COVID-19.
"It feels amazing to lift the trophy here, to recover the No. 1," Alcaraz said. "I would say this has been the perfect tournament. It was good for me, this tournament that I really wanted to win, and for me, it's amazing."
Alcaraz, who at 19 is now the youngest man to win this Masters 1000 event, went up a break in the second game of the first set and held serve to finish out the set.
In the second set, he immediately went up a break, then a double break, and remained strong on his own serve. The match was surprisingly one-sided, considering how well Medvedev has played this season. The match lasted just one hour and 11 minutes, which was shorter than the first set of the women's final.
"Sorry I didn't make this final entertaining," Medvedev joked to the crowd afterward. "I tried and I tried. I don't like to lose, but today was unfortunately pretty easy. I hope you still enjoyed it."
For his work over the last week, Alcaraz earned $1,262,220. Medvedev will receive $662,360.
The win was the culmination of a dominant six-match run for Alcaraz at Indian Wells. He didn’t lose a set in any of those matches. The last Indian Wells men’s champion to not lose a set was Roger Federer in 2017, who received help from a walkover. The last to do it in at least six matches was Rafael Nadal in 2007.
Prior to Sunday's final, Medvedev had been on a historical run of his own. The loss was the first in his last 20 matches, and the 27-year-old former No. 1 had won the three previous tournaments that he played — Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai.
The loss brought an end to the win streak that ended just shy of Medvedev's career-best streak of 20 consecutive wins.
"I'm really disappointed because I had 20 one time," Medvedev said. "This would be cool to try to beat it and maybe try to prolong it as long as possible.
"Really disappointed that it ended, but a lot of confidence from this streak. Because last year, that's what I was missing, kind of these streaks. I was doing sometimes finals, semis in Cincinnati, kind of playing good but not playing well enough in the semis. I managed to win 19 matches in a row. I'm proud of it, and now it's time to try to build a new streak. There is no other way in tennis."
Alcaraz, who turns 20 on May 5, was the top seed at Indian Wells and his title was historical for many reasons. He now replaces American Michael Chang as the youngest to win an Indian Wells men’s title while it has been an ATP Masters 1000 tournament. Chang won Indian Wells for the first time at the age of 20 in 1992.
Boris Becker won the tournament at the age of 19 in 1987, but that was before the event was a Masters 1000, which makes it the highest level outside of the four Grand Slams.
Last year, Alcaraz became the youngest man to win both the Miami Open and the Madrid Open. Both are Masters 1000 events.
Over the last 20 years, only Djokovic and Federer have won Indian Wells and the Miami Open, referred to as the Sunshine Double, in the same season. Alcaraz, who has momentum as the defending champion at Miami, now appears to have more than a fair shot to accomplish the feat.
With his title in Miami last year, Alcaraz became just the third man, after Nadal and Chang, to win a Masters 1000 tournament before turning 19. Now, he’s the first teenager in the men’s game to win the three big American tournaments — Indian Wells, Miami and the U.S. Open.
Alcaraz can add another first-since-Nadal stat to his resume if he joins his countryman as the only players to win at least three ATP Masters 1000 titles as teenagers. Nadal, 36, won his first of six ATP Masters 1000 titles as a teen at the 2005 Monte Carlo.
In stopping Medvedev, Alcaraz prevented the Russian tennis star from reaching his own historical feat. Medvedev had won 19 matches in 31 days across three continents, four countries and 12 time zones. The last man to win four titles in five weeks was Andy Murray at Beijing, Shanghai, Vienna and Paris in 2016. But Murray skipped a week of tournaments during his run and Medvedev has not.
Federer swept Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami in 2005 without missing a chance to play on the ATP Tour. But Federer captured his four titles over a seven-week span, passing on a Davis Cup tie before winning two-week tournaments at Indian Wells and Miami.
"The work you've done the last couple months," Alcaraz said to Medvedev on the court, "winning three (tournaments) in a row and reaching the finals here is an amazing achievement."
Medvedev reaching the final was somewhat miraculous considering he nearly had to withdraw with a left ankle injury during his match against Alexander Zverev. Medvedev needed medical attention after rolling his ankle, and he was on his back on the court for about five minutes before he was helped off and had his ankle wrapped. He returned to the court to win the match.
But Sunday wasn't about Medvedev. It was all Alcaraz, who overtook Djokovic in the rankings while Djokovic was not at Indian Wells. Medvedev said that Alcaraz is a deserving No. 1 and that it doesn't matter whether Djokovic was here or not.
Alcaraz and Djokovic have won the last two Grand Slams. Alcaraz grabbed the U.S. Open title last year when Djokovic was not there, and Djokovic won in January at the Australian Open while Alcaraz was out with a hamstring injury. Alcaraz said he looks forward to having a chance for the two of them to step onto the court together in a match sometime soon.
"I will say that if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best," Alcaraz said. "I really wanted to play against Novak again. We miss him on tour, and hope to have him back very, very soon."
Andrew John covers the BNP Paribas Open for The Desert Sun and the USA TODAY Network. Email him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: BNP Paribas Open: Carlos Alcaraz beats Daniil Medvedev for historical Indian Wells title