INDIAN WELLS, California – 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 No. 1 and simply trying to enjoy every match.
The 19-year-old Spaniard, ranked second in the world, became the youngest No. 1 ever after his US Open win in September. He can supplant Novak Djokovic and return to the summit with victory over Daniil Medvedev in the Indian Wells final on Sunday.
Alcaraz could have a second shot at top spot as Djokovic will miss this week’s Miami Open after the Serb was denied an exemption that would have allowed him to enter the United States despite not being vaccinated against Covid-19.
Alcaraz beat Jannik Sinner 7-6 (7-4), 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 No. 1. 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 No. 1, earned a 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) 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.
The 27-year-old, who is on a 19-match winning streak, is the first player since Andy Murray in 2016 to reach four finals in five weeks.