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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Sunday March 17, 2024

Indian Wells – Carlos Alcaraz stepped out of a personal funk and soared above the competition at the BNP Paribas Open. And for him, it was a beautiful thing. Not necessarily the winning, but the feeling...

Tennis Express

The 20-year-old had not raised a trophy on tour since Wimbledon, but he was up to the task at familiar stomping grounds in the California desert, where he reminded the world of just how magical of a talent he is and riflpast three Top 10 talents in his last three matches to become the first player to complete a successful BNP Paribas Open title defense since 2016.

Alcaraz also became the youngest player to defend his title Indian Wells since Boris Becker in 1988. The swashbuckling Spaniard isn’t simply a phenom, he’s also an extremely young phenom with time on his side.

But things haven’t been easy for Alcaraz of late, and that’s what made his title run at Indian Wells so very special.

Speaking with reporters after defeating Medvedev in Sunday’s final, Alcaraz opened up about that subject.

What was the biggest lesson he learned from his Indian Wells fortnight?

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

“I think that's the biggest lesson that I take from this tournament.”

In truth it is difficult to imagine Alcaraz – so bubbly, so open-hearted, so content to be on tour and playing the sport he is so passionate about – unhappy. But he has opened up about feeling the pressure over the last few months. He has said it has been difficult not having that winning feeling, not winning titles since Wimbledon, losing four consecutive semifinals, etc…

But that bit or malaise seems to be behind him now.

“It's difficult to put it into words, because I had really difficult months,” he said on Sunday, the Baccarat crystal trophy by his side in the BNP Paribas Open press room. “Let's say the last two months it was difficult for me to find myself. I didn't enjoy, let's say, stepping on the court. I wasn't myself on the court the last two months, three months, so it was difficult for me.”

Now that Alcaraz has come out of the fog, so to speak, can we expect him to start playing the scintillating tennis that we’ve come accustomed to? Is he about to go on a tear and reel of some titles, maybe win a third Grand Slam this summer?

He certainly is capable.

For now, what’s important is that his confidence is back, and the possibilities are opening up again.

“Yeah, 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,” he said. “It was so special for that. Not that I didn't win a tournament since Wimbledon. It's about the feelings. For me, if I win tournaments or not, I don't care. It's about enjoying playing tennis, once I step on the court.

“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.”

Photo credit: Matthew Stockman/Getty