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Carlos Alcaraz has admitted that climbing back into the world No 1 spot was made ‘easier’ by the absence of Novak Djokovic at Indian Wells. The teen sensation defeated Daniil Medvedev in the final and has now risen to the top of the rankings.

Alcaraz has returned to the No 1 spot, having also spent time as the top-ranked player after winning his maiden Grand Slam last year. The Spaniard incredibly stormed to success at the US Open at the end of last year and has enjoyed some remarkable form ever since.

However, the 19-year-old has insisted that his job would have been made harder had Djokovic been in the draw at Indian Wells. Djokovic remains unable to enter the US over his refusal to be vaccinated against COVID-19.

“It means a lot to me to record the No 1, it’s a goal for me,” Alcaraz told Tennis Channel. “Obviously, I’m not going to say that it was easy, but it was easier because Djokovic is not playing. For me, being a No 1 and going to Miami as a No 1 gives me a lot of confidence to play my best out there.”

Djokovic is likely to be back for the US Open later this year to present Alcaraz a tough defence of his first Grand Slam. The vaccine mandate for travel into the US currently lasts until April 10.

Alcaraz claims that his victory at Indian Wells gives him the confidence to complete a Sunshine Double by winning at the Miami Open. “I’m playing great. Of course today, the conditions today were pretty tough,” he said after beating Medvedev 6-3 6-2.

“Of course Daniil didn’t play at his best, obviously. All I can say is I’m really happy with my performance, the way that I [was] playing this tournament. I’m looking forward to playing this level in Miami as well.

“I’d said before that against Daniil you have to play your best, and tactic at your best level as well. Against him is always a tactic match, and I did perfect today. That’s why it looks easy, but it wasn’t.”

Medvedev had been on a 19-match unbeaten run before playing Alcaraz. He admits he is unsure why he was not at the top of his game for the final.

He said: “Why didn’t I play my best? I don’t know. Maybe it was his ball. Maybe it was the wind, because it was windy today, and for him it was easier to go through this wind. So I have no real reasons. He probably played good.”