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By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Sunday, March 10, 2024

Tennis Paradise is a construction zone.

Carlos Alcaraz is working on rebuilding his confidence shot-by-shot.

More: Grigor Dimitrov on Pure Beauty

Striking with conviction, Alcaraz dismantled Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2, 6-3 charging into the BNP Paribas Open fourth round for the third straight year. 

The reigning champion scored his eighth straight Indian Wells win with his most complete match of the season.

It should strengthen Alcaraz's self-belief as the Spanish superstar concedes he suffered a bit of a crisis confidence following his Australian Open quarterfinal loss to Alexander Zverev followed by his Buenos Aires semifinal setback to Nicolas Jarry.

"I mean, it was difficult months for me. My confidence go down a little bit," Alcaraz told the media in Indian Wells. "Not after Australia but in the South American swing. After Buenos Aires, I didn't play good tennis.

"Yeah, my confidence go down a little bit, and I have been struggling during the practice every day, you know, try to keep my confidence high or as high as I can. Yeah, trying to be myself every day."

Coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, who was not in Melbourne as he was rehabbing from surgery, has been court-side in Indian Wells exhorting Alcaraz.

Consulting with former world No. 1 Ferrero and his psychologist helped settle his mind, Alcaraz said, and plug into positivity ahead of the Sunshine Double.

Ultimately, rebuilding confidence is a shot-by-shot process, Alcaraz says.

"Well, I think [building confidence] are difficult work, let's say," Alcaraz said. "I try to put my 100% in every practice. I was trying to be focused in every ball. Of course, talking to Juan Carlos, my team, and of course with my psychologist a few times, it was really helpful for me. Yeah, I got a few tips that I have to do on the practice, on the matches. Obviously for me, feeling well on the matches is very, very important.

"Yeah, as I said, I need that level that I played at the end of the first round, this match as well. I think that's help a lot. But yeah, I was really focused on every practice and being myself and giving my 100% in every shot."

That commitment is translating to some of Alcaraz's most dynamic all-court tennis. Alcaraz won 15 of 18 trips to net today and broke serve four times in a 77-minute sweep of Auger-Aliassime, who took the court with a 3-1 record against the Spaniard.

Stacking a series quality shots together today, Alcaraz aims to get back to basics.

"Well, I'm not looking to losses or winning. I'm looking in every match how it feel, how I hit the ball, how I move," Alcaraz said. "I lost in the quarterfinal in Australia but I left Australia with a good feeling. I was playing great. But, you know, after that I was not feeling as good as I want.

"But for me it's about feelings; not losses or winning."

Still, results don't lie.

The Wimbledon winner, who will celebrate his 21st birthday on May 5th, has not reached a final since falling to Novak Djokovic in an epic Cincinnati title match last August.

Alcaraz said if he can bring his best in each match, he believes the results will come.

"I think the first thing that you have to do if you want to defend the title is you forget about you won the title last year," Alcaraz said. "It's about being yourself, being at 100% every day if you want to do a good results here.

"I'm not thinking about I have to defend the title, I have to play in the final. I'm just focusing on every day give my 100% in every practice, in every match how I can be better. I think if I'm following that path, I'll do really good results. I think I approach the tournament like this."

Photo credit: Matthew Calvis