With the first answer at his pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday, BNP Paribas Open top seed Carlos Alcaraz immediately quelled any doubts of lingering fitness concerns.
The 19-year-old took some time off after injuring his right hamstring during his run to the Rio de Janeiro final, a problem that forced him to withdraw from Acapulco. But after a quick recovery, with less than a week spent off the court, Alcaraz is raring to go at the year’s first ATP Masters 1000.
“I’m [feeling] really good right now,” the returning semi-finalist said on the tournament’s media day. “Today was the first practice that I practised with some players, [played] some points. I feel great. I took some days off and it was really good for me. Right now I’m ready.”
Alcaraz has a lot to play for this week: By winning his third Masters 1000 crown, he would return to No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. While he does not consider himself a favourite in the desert, the Spaniard is motivated to chase glory on both fronts.
“It’s a really good goal for me,” he said of the potential double. “Of course playing a Masters 1000 is always tough and I really want to have a good result here. I love this tournament as well.
“For me, winning the tournament and being No. 1 again is a really good goal and I really want to go for it.”
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The Spaniard has recent experience in this situation, with his 2022 US Open title run lifting him to World No. 1 for the first time last September. While he has already claimed one title in 2023, winning his season-debut tournament in Buenos Aires, Alcaraz is seeking his first hard-court title since his New York breakthrough.
“On hard court I think I’m a really good tennis player, so I’m going to go for it,” said Alcaraz, who has not competed on the surface since last November’s Rolex Paris Masters. “I don’t consider myself a favourite to win the tournament because [it has been] a long time since I played on hard court. Of course there are a lot of great players in this draw that have chances to win the tournament.
“I would say that I have my chances to win the tournament and I’m going to [try to] take it.”
After a first-round bye, Alcaraz will open his third Indian Wells campaign against qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis or wild card Brandon Holt.