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Alcaraz defeats Medvedev to defend his Indian Wells title. Swiatek beats Sakkari for women's title

INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Carlos Alcaraz arrived at Indian Wells full of doubt about his twisted right ankle. He's leaving as a two-time champion.

He defeated Daniil Medvedev 7-6 (5), 6-1 for the second straight year in the BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday, earning his first title since winning Wimbledon last year.

Iga Swiatek beat Maria Sakkari 6-4, 6-0 in just over an hour to win the women’s title, with Swiatek losing just 21 games in six matches during the 12-day tournament — an average of 3.5 games per match.

Alcaraz sprained his ankle at the Rio Open in late February. His first practice at Indian Wells lasted 30 minutes without any movement. His first practice with his fellow pros “was really tough for me,” he said in a Tennis Channel interview.

Alcaraz outlasted Jannik Sinner in a three-set semifinal after needing three sets to get out of his second-round match.

“After every match I was feeling better,” Alcaraz said. “I was getting more confident after every match. Winning a Master 1000 again, a really important tournament to win, gives you motivation to keep going.”

Alcaraz became the first man to defend his Indian Wells title since Novak Djokovic won three in a row from 2014-16. He beat Medvedev 6-3, 6-2 last year in the Southern California desert.

“It’s definitely your court, you like it here,” Medvedev told Alcaraz during the victory ceremony. “Hopefully you can one day let me play a little bit better here.”

Medvedev led 3-0 in the first set while Alcaraz had eight unforced errors over those games. The Spaniard won three games in a row to tie it, 3-3.

The players held serve the rest of the set, with Alcaraz serving a love game to get into the tiebreaker. He led 3-0 and 5-2 before Medvedev tied it 5-5. Alcaraz won the next two points to close it out.

Alcaraz got the only two breaks in the second set, when Medvedev had one winner and nine errors.

For the match, Alcaraz hit 25 winners and had 26 unforced errors, while Medvedev had 11 winners and 23 unforced errors.

Swiatek improved to 20-2 this year, with her wins leading the WTA Tour.

It was a repeat of the 2022 final, in which Swiatek beat Sakkari 6-4, 6-1. Sakkari hasn’t defeated the Polish star since 2021.

Swiatek raced to a 3-0 lead in the opening set. Sakkari recovered to win three straight games, including a break of Swiatek. She served a love game to tie it, 4-4. Swiatek lost just two points on her serve the rest of the set, wrapping it up with a forehand winner in the corner.

Swiatek was more dominant in the second set, breaking Sakkari three times all in love games. She lost just five points in the set.

Swiatek hit 15 winners and had 11 unforced errors in the 1 hour, 8-minute match. Sakkari had eight winners and 18 unforced errors.

Alcaraz and Swiatek earned $1.1 million each for their wins. That's less than the $1.26 million the women's and men's champions received in 2023. This year more prize money was allocated to the earlier rounds, reducing the champions' prize money by nearly 13%.

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AP tennis: https://apnews.com/hub/tennis