Tennis – Alcaraz still trying to have fun despite target on his back
Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru;
Editing by William Mallard
(Reuters) – Teenager Carlos Alcaraz said he is unfazed by the pressure of being perceived as a favourite after his meteoric rise to the top of tennis, adding that he is not distracted by the lure of being world number one and simply trying to enjoy every match.
The 19-year-old Spaniard, ranked second in the world, became the youngest number one ever after his U.S. Open win in September> He can return to the summit with victory over Daniil Medvedev in the Indian Wells final on Sunday.
Alcaraz beat Jannik Sinner 7-6(4) 6-3 on Saturday to reach his third final of 2023, having won the title in Buenos Aires and reached the final in Rio de Janeiro in February after more than three months out due to abdominal and hamstring injuries.
“It doesn’t change too much for me,” Alcaraz told reporters. “I don’t think about that I’m the favourite in every match. I don’t think about that I have to win every match.”
“I just have goals in my mind, I have things that I have to do, and that’s all I think about. I try to enjoy every match. I’m not thinking about anything else.”
“I know if I win tomorrow I’m going to be the number one. I will try not to think about that. I have to make everything perfect. That’s all I’m going to think about tomorrow.“
Russian Medvedev, a former world number one, earned a 7-5 7-6(4) win over Frances Tiafoe to extend his winning run to 19 matches. He is seeking his fourth title in as many tournaments after victories in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai.
Medvedev said his second-round win over Alcaraz at Wimbledon in 2021 – the only prior meeting between the two – was no gauge for their showdown on Sunday.
“He was definitely not the same player as he is right now,” Medvedev said. So in a way it’s going to be like a first match between us in terms of how we’re going to go tactically or physically or tennis-wise.
“He’s amazing, he has amazing skills which are tough to compare to anyone… It’s going to be great fun to play against him.“
(Reporting by Hritika Sharma in Bengaluru; Editing by William Mallard)