Indian Wells Is Made For Carlos Alcaraz, And Tennis Fans Love It

INDIAN WELLS, CA—The 16,100-capacity Stadium 1 at Indian Wells Tennis Garden was full Sunday for the men’s final of the BNP Paribas Open.

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Celebs, tennis legends and devoted aficianados turned out to witness the contest between Spain’s 20-year-old Carlos Alcaraz and Russia’s 28-year-old Daniil Medvedev. It was a matchup of contrasting playing styles and personalities.

There was never doubt, however, that Alcaraz was the fan favorite. When he won it — 7-6, 6-1 — there was collective joy in the stadium. As he has done around the world, Alcaraz endeared the desert — and not for the first time.

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In 2023, 19-year-old Alcaraz bested Medvedez in the BNP Paribas final, 6-3, 6-2.

During this year’s trophy ceremony, Medvedev turned to the victor and said, “It’s definitely your court, you like it here. Congrats to you and your team. You are doing a great job so continue this way and hopefully one day you can let me play a little bit better here.”

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Alcaraz, who never stopped smiling, told his opponent, “I enjoy playing these kind of matches with you. Hopefully more finals ahead.”

Indian Wells offered an eventful two weeks for Alcaraz and his followers. The two-time major champion was stung when a swarm of bees invaded the court Thursday in his quarterfinal match against Germany’s Alexander Zverev. The young Spaniard went on to maintain his ATP #2 ranking by ending the 19-match winning streak of his friend, Italy’s Jannick Sinner, in the semis. Then he dominated against Medvedev in the second set of the final.

The gritty Indian Wells courts are indeed suited to Alcaraz. His heavy forehand checks up on the slow courts, with help from the dry desert air. His foot speed and agility are accentuated on the surface.

There’s something else. Indian Wells fans have a love affair with the Spaniard, and it was omnipresent this year. Alcaraz lost the first set to Sinner, 6-1. In the first set against Medvedev, he was down 3-0 before turning it around.

When Alcaraz won Sunday’s final, he wrote on the broadcaster’s camera lens, “CCC, Love U, Indian Wells” (signing the lens is tennis tradition).

For Alcaraz, CCC stands for Cabeza, Corazón y Cojones (Head, Heart and Balls). The three Cs are tattooed on his hand.

The middle piece — heart — is the intangible. Alcaraz’s athleticism is, arguably, second to none on the ATP Tour right now. Fans can’t get enough of his stretched-out, open-stance backhand down-the-line winners, the perfectly disguised dropshots, or his exquisite serve-and-volley that’s usually deployed by seasoned veterans who’ve refined the play over years on tour.

Fans love the guy because he does it all with heart and love for the game. That widespread support is nice for a pro to have when battling inside a packed stadium, alone on the court, trying to get the W.

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