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Men’s Final Preview: Medvedev Hopes For Happier Ending As Alcaraz Bids To Defend
4 Min Read · March 17, 2024

For the first time in nine years, the BNP Paribas Open men’s singles final will be a repeat affair. 

Daniil Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz will battle for the title on Sunday in Tennis Paradise, one year after the Spaniard took out Medvedev for his maiden Indian Wells title in dominant fashion winning 6-3, 6-2. 

The pair’s looming showdown marks the first time that the same players have met in back-to-back finals at the BNP Paribas Open since Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in two consecutive finals in 2014 and 2015. 

Last year’s one-sided defeat at the hands of Alcaraz was a tough moment for Medvedev, but his trip to the final was a step in the right direction, and seen as a positive sign for the former World No.1. Prior to 2023 Medvedev had never been beyond the third round at Indian Wells and was open about his struggles to adapt his game to the slow-playing, high-bouncing hard courts at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. 

But over the course of last year’s fortnight Medvedev played brilliantly, winning two three-setters and powering past high-flying American Frances Tiafoe in the semifinals to reach the final. 

“Disappointed with the result, but the week was amazing,” Medvedev said after the 2023 final. “Because at Indian Wells, to make the final, I'm just super happy and proud, because it's a clay court on hard court – that's a good result for me.”

The fact that Medvedev is back in the final indicates that the 28-year-old’s form continues to be strong. He improved to 14-2 on the season with a 1-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 win over American Tommy Paul in the semifinals on Saturday night, and will now set his sights on red-hot Alcaraz, who has rediscovered his magic this week and stretched his winning streak in the California desert to 11 consecutive matches. 

“I saw Carlos [play] today,” said Medvedev. “He was playing pretty well, second and third sets, especially. But I know what happened last year so I’m going to try my best to try to turn it around. To play better, play stronger, more on the lines, a bit more aces, stuff like this. Hopefully I can be able to do it.”

On Saturday, Alcaraz rallied past his rival Jannik Sinner in a wildly entertaining tilt, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3, to reach his sixth career Masters 1000 final. It was his best performance in a week of dazzling, eyebrow-raising tennis for the young phenom. 

The fan support has been off the charts for the defending champion, and he has turned around his season in the Coachella Valley, ending a string of four consecutive semifinal losses and reaching his first final since he lost to Novak Djokovic in the final at Cincinnati last August. 

“I feel like I'm playing at home,” Alcaraz said. “It's something crazy seeing that I'm playing the other part of my country, of the world, and to be able to feel that energy, that love like I'm playing at home is something unbelievable.” 

Alcaraz and Medvedev have met three more times since their clash in last year’s final, with the Spaniard winning battles at Wimbledon and the ATP Finals in Turin, while Medvedev struck gold in New York, defeating Alcaraz in the US Open semifinals, 7-6(3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. 

That was a massive win for Medvedev, who had been bogged down in the matchup and unable to make a dent in Alcaraz’s armor in their two previous meetings. 

“It was a great win, it's great for the confidence,” Medvedev said last year in New York. “I have hopefully [many] years of my career ahead, and to know I'm capable of doing it on the big stage – every time you do it one more time, it brings more confidence. You know you can do it again and you want to do it again.” 

But to do it again against a confident player like Alcaraz might be an even tougher task, given just how well-suited to the California desert conditions the Spaniard is. 

There’s also the fact that – New York result notwithstanding – Alcaraz is very comfortable in the matchup with Medvedev. That comfort allows him an opportunity to use his variety to force Medvedev off of his happy spot behind the baseline. If Alcaraz can lure the No. 4 seed into the net regularly like he did last year, he’ll be playing Sunday’s final on favorable terms. 

That’s a perfect scenario for Alcaraz, who used his variety to throw undefeated Jannik Sinner for a loop in Saturday’s semifinal, as he stormed back from a set down for his most impressive victory of the 2024 season. 

The Spaniard will bid for his 13th ATP and fifth title at the Masters level, while Medvedev will aim for his 21st career title and his seventh Masters crown. 

“I know how I have to play against him,” a confident Alcaraz said of Medvedev on Saturday. “I have played him many times, [including the] final against him last year. So I know pretty well the tactics against him.” 

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