BNP Paribas Open
BNP Paribas Open Logo
ATP Tour
WTA Tennis
Match Recap
Carlos Alcaraz Does It Again, Soars Past Medvedev To Claim Back-To-Back Titles
March 17, 2024
Carlos Alcaraz touches his ear to encourage cheering fans during his 2024 final against Medvedev.

Carlos Alcaraz returned to No. 1 in the rankings after he won last year’s BNP Paribas Open. His second straight title in the desert — achieved by beating familiar foe Daniil Medvedev 7-6 (5), 6-1 — marked another upturn for the often electric Spaniard.

He came to Tennis Paradise hoping to find “good rhythm” and not knowing how his body would hold up after injuring his right ankle in Rio last month. But the 20-year-old got the answers he wanted — and everything went swimmingly for him. Well, apart from an encounter with bees during his quarterfinal against Alexander Zverev.

"It means a lot to me, lifting this trophy, winning this tournament, because I overcome a lot of problems in my head, a lot of problems physically," said Alcaraz.

The emphatic win over Zverev was sure to be a morale booster, since the German ousted him in convincing fashion at the Australain Open.

Even bigger? Defeating Jannik Sinner from a set down to end his friend’s imposing 19-match winning streak. Sinner had won their last two matchups, too. Medvedev is never an easy out, either. Alcaraz wouldn’t have needed reminding that the 28-year-old ousted him at the US Open. At the same time, Medvedev fell to Alcaraz in last year’s Indian Wells final.

Alcaraz has already made history and snuggled alongside a pair of legends by bettering Medvedev.  He became the first men’s player to win successive crowns in Indian Wells since Novak Djokovic’s three-peat from 2014-2016 and joined Rafael Nadal in bagging five Masters events before the age of 21. As incredible as it may seem given his talent, he added to his trophy haul for the first time since Wimbledon.

“It’s amazing coming back here, playing in such a beautiful court and I am enjoying every time I come here,” Alcaraz said during the trophy presentation.

It didn’t start well for him, though, amid sunny skies that also accompanied Iga Swiatek’s straight-set victory over Maria Sakkari in the women’s finale. Medvedev blasted three winners in the opening game, bucking his usual counterpunching game. It was the sort of aggressive play that Medvedev showcased against Sinner in the Australian Open final before the Italian produced a stellar comeback. Alcaraz, in his first final since August, then dropped serve for 2-0. Were there early nerves for him?

Whether that was the case or not, Medvedev backed up the break with a lengthy hold as Alcaraz spurned three break points. Alcaraz’s backhand creaked. But Alcaraz didn’t waste break points at 3-1. 

Alcaraz lured Medvedev forward with one of his trademark drop shots. He kept the rally going but Alcaraz, on a looping ball with no pace, somehow engineered a whipped forehand. He raised a fist to the sky in celebration. Chair umpire Mohamed Lahyani provided some comic relief as a now tense set unfolded.

When a baby (inadvertently, of course) seemed to unsettle Medvedev, Lahyani uttered, “Please give some love to the baby.” Laughs ensued all around.

Before the start of the ninth game, the spectators chanted, “Vamos, Carlos, Vamos Carlos” but Medvedev just about held firm.  Alcaraz subsequently won arguably the point of the match when he backtracked following a lob. Sliding and scrambling, he found a forehand to stay alive.

Seconds later, after Medvedev’s forehand volley gave Alcaraz a small chance, it was taken with a forehand passing shot. He put a finger to his ear and yes, Stadium 1 erupted in deafening applause.

“I enjoy playing so much in front of you. So much energy. I felt the love since the first day until today," Alcaraz told the crowd post-match. "Thanks to you, thanks to the energy you bring to me, I could show my best tennis.”

Alcaraz saw a 5-2 advantage shrivel to 5-5 in the pivotal tiebreak. Crunch time came. What did Alcaraz do? He ripped a gutsy second serve out wide for 6-5, before Medvedev erred to seal the epic set after an hour and 10 minutes.

Medvedev, who rallied to beat home favorite Tommy Paul in a nighttime thriller Saturday, couldn’t recover this time. He was broken in his opening service game of the second set and Alcaraz was well on his way to victory. The breathtaking shots kept coming from him, including a forehand cross court after zipping to get into position. Medvedev’s forehand strayed on match point, giving Alcaraz the ending he sought when arriving in Indian Wells.

More news