Carlos Alcaraz inflicts brutal blow on Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells triumph

The Spanish teenager is the new World No.1 after beating Daniil Medvedev in the final.

Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic, pictured here on the tennis court.
Carlos Alcaraz has taken Novak Djokovic's No.1 ranking. Image: AAP/Getty

Carlos Alcaraz has moved back to World No.1 in the men's tennis rankings, taking advantage of Novak Djokovic's absence from Indian Wells. Djokovic was sitting pretty atop the world rankings before the ATP 1000 event began, but his inability to play the event in the California desert has cost him the top spot.

Alcaraz's victory over Daniil Medvedev in Sunday's final has seen the Spanish youngster leap-frog the idle Djokovic and recapture the No.1 ranking he lost earlier this year. Djokovic had gone back atop the world rankings with his 22nd grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, but was barred from playing at Indian Wells due to his vaccination status.

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The Serbian star isn't allowed to enter the United States, meaning he is forced to miss Indian Wells and the Miami Open - both ATP 1000 events. He also missed both events last year, with America still requiring overseas travellers to show proof of vaccination to gain entry into the country.

It was recently announced that the mandate would be lifted next month, but that will come too late for Djokovic. In a positive twist, he will be allowed to play the US Open in September.

However the furore has cost him the World No.1 ranking, with Alcaraz recapturing the mantle on Sunday with his 6-3 6-2 thrashing of Medvedev. The Spanish star first went to World No.1 in 2022, but lost the top spot to Djokovic when he missed the Australian Open due to injury.

Alcaraz got off to a great start against Medvedev, racing out to a 3-0 lead before taking the first set. The Spaniard then lifted his game in the second and had Medvedev deep behind the baseline from the first few points.

Carlos Alcaraz, pictured here with the trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev in the Indian Wells final.
Carlos Alcaraz celebrates with the trophy after defeating Daniil Medvedev in the Indian Wells final. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

The 19-year-old won 12 points in a row at one stage, with his victory halting Medvedev's 19-match winning streak on the ATP tour. The triumph also gives Alcaraz three Masters 1000 titles from three finals played - not dropping a set in any of them - and banishes any suggestions that he's not a bona fide World No.1.

"I'm very happy to win this tournament, it's amazing to complete these 10 days like this," Alcaraz said. "Of course the conditions today were very tough.

"Daniil obviously didn't play at his best level, but I'm very happy for my performance and how I played this tournament. I want to play at this level in Miami as well."

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Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had been lobbying hard for Djokovic to be granted an exemption to play in Miami - which begins next week - tweeting: "The only thing keeping Novak Djokovic from participating in the Miami Open tennis tournament is President Biden’s misguided and unscientific Covid-19 vaccination requirement for foreigner travelers. Mr. President – lift your restrictions and let him compete."

Miami Open director James Blake previously confirmed that the 22-time grand slam champion would not be able to play after Indian Wells counterpart Tommy Haas labelled the decision a 'disgrace'. "We're one of the premier tournaments in the world, we'd like to have the best players that can play," Blake said in an interview with the Tennis Channel.

"We did all that we could. We tried to talk to the government, but that's out of our hands. We tried, and he wasn't able to play.

"Same result that he had in Indian Wells, where I know (fellow tournament director) Tommy Haas did as much as he could. We tried to get Novak Djokovic to be allowed to get an exemption, but that wasn't able to happen.

"We'd love to have him, and he's our greatest champion, he's won six times here. Unfortunately, that's way above my pay grade."

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