It’s a testament to how good Carlos Alcaraz is that we now view him through a different lens and judge him against the large shadow that he’s created by winning a couple of majors.  

That being said, he needed this result. He hadn’t made a final since Cincinnati in August last year and had said in the press that he didn’t feel great during his last couple of times out on court in Buenos Aires and Rio.  

The surface at Indian Wells does Carlos the most favours of any of the top players, so, searching for confidence, it was a great time for him to arrive at this venue and defend his title. It was nice to see him in full flight and this will give him a huge confidence boost going into the rest of the year. A confident, engaged Chucky Alcaraz is good for tennis. 

That Alcaraz v Jannik Sinner rivalry is starting to feel like a heavyweight fight with the energy around it. The crowd was half-full 30 minutes before the match, which is telling you that people out there want to see it. 

Going into their semi-final, Sinner had established himself as the best player in the world for at least the last four months, and that third set was the first time we’ve seen him look human in all that time.  

He is rolling through matches with some very lopsided scorelines for professional tennis and, even though that 19-game streak came to an end, I continue to be so impressed with him. 

Swiatek reminds me of Roger 

Iga Swiatek didn’t drop a set on her way to the women’s title and is such a good front-runner. It’s similar to Roger Federer – once he got a break in the first set and got comfortable, it was tough to lasso him and bring him back in. 

Iga is the same way. Her confidence grows exponentially when she gets out in front and, when she gets into tournaments, she becomes very tough to beat. 

She has now gone deep in her last three events. With four majors, eight Masters 1000s titles and 19 tournament wins, she is very quickly entering the realm of passing some heady names, and she’s still only 22 years old. If she wins one Slam this year then she’ll match Maria Sharapova. If she wins two, then she’ll be right behind Justine Henin and Venus Williams on seven.  

Even though she’s No. 1 in the world, it’s almost like her career has been undersold to this point.  

Moving on to Miami 

Maria Sakkari seems like she’s got some confidence back. You can see when she's confident and when she's not, and there’s a huge delta between the two, so it was nice to see her hard work alongside new coach David Witt rewarded. 

Marta Kostyuk also looked great. The way these Ukrainian women are dealing with the danger of their families at home and still thriving on tour is a level of mental gymnastics that I can’t even pretend to understand.  

This also feels like an inflection point for Stefanos Tsitsipas. He’s someone we’ve almost taken for granted as being in the top five but is now No. 11 in the world and moving a little bit further back in line, so I don’t think the clay can get here fast enough for Stef.  

He's certainly talented enough to turn it around, but it's going to take some work. The game is changing and he’s almost become old-school mid-career with the way that he produces his shots. 
I hope we don’t lose that style in tennis, with that flair for the dramatic and one-handed talent, so will be looking for him to recover.  

Novak and Rafa plotting their paths to Roland Garros 

Novak Djokovic has already said he’s in a part of his career where he’s balancing personal life and tour life, and one has to take priority. Him withdrawing from Miami is not a tennis decision, so I can’t have an opinion on his reasoning. 

Do I think his game would be better served if he played Miami? Yes, but that's secondary. He's going to be ready for Roland Garros and anyone who pretends like they know how to prepare for a tournament more than Novak Djokovic is kidding themselves. 

Rafael Nadal would ideally want to play maybe three events going into the French Open. He’s the type of player that needs matches and needs that physical feedback. 

Monte Carlo has always been a successful event for him, and you’d have to think he would want to play Madrid in his home country again. Now they’re 10-day events, that probably ups the chances that you’ll see him in Madrid and Rome, but it’s going to depend on results.  

If he has an early exit in Madrid, I don't see him waiting out three weeks before Roland Garros. Monte Carlo is going to be a big tell as to where his body is at. If he participates in that, then we're going to see a fuller schedule. 

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