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Alcaraz ends title drought with Indian Wells triumph

World No.2 Carlos Alcaraz has returned to title-winning ways with a successful defence of the ATP Indian Wells crown, downing Daniil Medvedev 7-6 (7-5) 6-1 in the final.

It was the 20-year-old Spanish star's first title since winning Wimbledon last July and makes him the first man to defend a championship in the California desert since Novak Djokovic won three straight between 2014-2016.

Alcaraz showed no ill effects from the ankle injury that forced him to withdraw from last month's Rio Open but said it was on his mind coming into the event.

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz celebrates his title triumph at Indian Wells. (AP PHOTO)

"Winning this tournament means a lot to me because the week before it began I had a lot of doubts about my ankle," Alcaraz said.

"But once I stepped on the court for the first round it started to feel better and as I said after every match, I was feeling better and better. Really, really happy to be able to win this tournament again."

It was an eventful stay in the California desert for Alcaraz.

The two-time major champion was stung on the forehead when a swarm of bees invaded the court on Thursday, kept his No.2 ranking by ending Australian Open champion Jannik Sinner's 19-match winning streak in the semis and slayed big-serving fourth seed Medvedev in the final.

In a rematch of last year's final, Alcaraz started slow, spraying errors around the court to fall 3-0 down but raised his level to get back on serve and eventually force a tiebreak.

In the closely fought breaker, Alcaraz pounded a forehand that his Russian opponent could not redirect safely in bounds to hand Alcaraz the first set.

The Spaniard romped through the second set, raising his arms in the air and letting out a roar when Medvedev missed another forehand wide on match point.

Second seed Alcaraz smacked 25 winners to Medvedev's 11 and was especially effective against his opponent's second serves.

"I enjoy playing these kind of matches with you," Alcaraz told Medvedev during the trophy ceremony. "Hopefully more finals ahead."

Medvedev, who briefly lost his temper with some fans in the Alcaraz-friendly crowd in the second set, was gracious in defeat.

"I'd like to congratulate Carlos," Medvedev said during the trophy ceremony.

"It's definitely your court, you like it here. Congrats to you and your team. You are doing a great job so continue this way and hopefully one day you can let me play a little bit better here," he said.