Alcaraz all smiles again

Carlos Alcaraz said his successful Indian Wells title defence was all the sweeter because he felt he had found himself in the California desert after a difficult few months.

The Spaniard, still only 20, had not won a title since clinching his second major crown at last year’s Wimbledon until he beat Daniil Medvedev 7-6(5) 6-1 on Sunday in a rematch of last year’s final.

Alcaraz said the title drought had not bothered him but, struggling with injury, he felt he had lost his way a bit and was not enjoying being on court.

“It’s difficult to put it into words, because I had really difficult months,” he told reporters.

“Let’s say the last two months it was difficult for me to find myself. I didn’t enjoy stepping on the court. I wasn’t myself on the court the last two months, three months, so it was difficult for me.

“It means a lot to me, lifting this trophy because I overcome a lot of problems in my head, a lot of problems physically. It was so special for that.

“That’s why I’m really, really happy to lift this trophy, because I found myself at this tournament, and I felt really, really good.”

Alcaraz started the year with a quarter-final exit at the Australian Open before being knocked out in the semi-finals in Buenos Aires and retiring from his first match in Rio de Janeiro with an ankle injury.

“I was struggling to enjoy being on the court,” he added. “My family, my team, people close to me were telling me that I was not smiling as much as I was doing before.”

Enjoying his tennis was important to Alcaraz, he said, and nothing was more likely to bring out his trademark grin than winning a point with the sort of “special shot” he produced to get past Jannik Sinner in the semis and Medvedev on Sunday.

“I always say that I’m playing better with a smile on my face,” he said.

“And points like this one, doesn’t matter if I win it or lose it, it puts a smile on my face anyways.”

The world number two said he would take a valuable lesson in problem-solving away from Indian Wells along with the trophy and a cheque for $1.1 million.

“It doesn’t matter what problems you have. If you believe in yourself, you have a really good team around you, you work hard, everything can turn around,” he said.

“I think that’s the biggest lesson that I take from this tournament.” — Reuters.

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