Alcaraz 'wasn't moving in practice' before overcoming injury to win Indian Wells

Alcaraz ended his eight-month wait for a title as he captured the Indian Wells crown on Sunday. In a rematch of last year’s final, the Spaniard came out on top once again. But he didn’t even know whether he would be able to show his usual level heading into the tournament after picking up an injury in Rio.

Less than three weeks before his first match in California, the 20-year-old fell in his opening round at the Rio Open, retiring at 1-1. He later confirmed that he suffered a grade II lateral sprain but was expecting to compete in Indian Wells. However, the situation was worse than initially expected, as Alcaraz has now explained just how difficult his practice sessions were.

“This tournament means a lot to me. I love playing here, it’s so special to me but I think this year is a little bit more special to me because before the tournament I was thinking about if I’m going to play my best or not,” Alcaraz told Sky Sports after winning his 13th career title.

“I was not feeling well with my ankle. Weeks before the tournament I was hitting 30 minutes with no movement so was a lot of doubts for me. But really happy to be able to overcome the problems and at the end, feeling better.”

Asked how he managed to turn things around, Alcaraz explained that he had to accept that he wouldn’t be pain-free. The world No. 2 continued: “Well I got treatment every day. Obviously I realised that I have to play like this, that I’m going to feel a bit of pain.

“But I think it’s normal for a tennis player, I think we live with pains. With my team, we did really good work off the court as well to try to recover as soon as possible or as best as I can and I think I did pretty well.”

Alcaraz got off to a slow start in Sunday’s final, as Medvedev took a 3-0 lead. But the had plenty of chances to break the fourth seed’s serve and stormed back to draw level. 

After taking the close 69-minute set in a tiebreak, he stormed through the second for the loss of just one game. And he later admitted that he was full of nerves going into the match. “Well not a little bit, it was a lot of nerves. For me, it was difficult to start the match,” Alcaraz explained.

“I was not feeling well the ball so it was a little bit tough for me but it’s marginal, in three games you can turn it around and started to play better and that’s what I did. I started to calm myself a little bit, control my emotions and I started to feel better.”