ATP/WTA: Alcaraz and Swiatek rule the desert again

Carlos Alcaraz and Iga Swiatek picked up the prestigious Indian Wells crystal sculptured trophies once again.

Carlos Alcaraz, trophée, Indian Wells 2024©Antoine Couvercelle / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

The first half of the 'Sunshine Swing' was a true treat for tennis fans.

Indian Wells 2024 served up a host of thrilling encounters. Here are the key takeaways from the Californian desert…

World No.1 Iga Swiatek reasserted her dominance over the women's tour with a title run at Indian Wells.

The four-time Grand Slam champion stormed to her second Indian Wells triumph with a 6-4, 6-0 dismissal of the rejuvenated Maria Sakkari.

The Pole claimed the last eight games of the contest to chalk up an eighth career WTA 1000 title and 19th career silverware.

Swiatek didn't lose a set all campaign in California, despite facing formidable obstacles. The top seed rattled past Danielle Collins 6-3, 6-0, then gained Australian Open revenge 6-4, 6-0 over Linda Noskova.

The 22-year-old was leading Caroline Wozniacki by a set, before the Dane retired injured, and then Swiatek's emphatic progress continued by relinquishing just three games to No.31 seed Marta Kostyuk in the semi-finals. 

“I'm really proud of myself, I'm super happy,” said Swiatek. “Even though this tournament looked like, the scores, maybe I had everything under control, it wasn't from the beginning to the end so easy. So I'm happy I could improve during the tournament.

"I would say at the beginning of the tournament I felt like I didn't have much luck with the draw. I played opponents that sometimes I struggled with.

"I felt really good on the last two matches, big amount of confidence. I just felt like I could actually play my game more freely."

Alcaraz re-finds himself with title defence

Spain's leading light Carlos Alcaraz is simply built different.

Four weeks ago the world No.2 was forced to retire from a match in Rio, having twisted his right ankle. On Sunday, the 20-year-old surged to glory with a 7-6(5), 6-1 final victory over Daniil Medvedev to retain his Indian Wells title.

“Winning this tournament means a lot to me because the week before it began, I had a lot of doubts about my ankle,” said Alcaraz moments after securing his fifth Masters 1000 crown.

"I was not feeling well with my ankle, but once I stepped on the court, the first round, I started to feel better.”

Alcaraz clicked into some devastating form in the desert which culminated in two Top 4 tussles to earn his first title since Wimbledon last July.

In the semi-finals Alcaraz edged his friend Jannik Sinner 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to halt the Australian Open champion's 19-match winning streak, then came magical moments against world No.4 Medvedev. A plethora of points earned standing ovations, social media was popping due to Alcaraz's athletic and heart-stopping tennis.

He defied a bees storm, thunderstorms, his internal doubts, all with his trademark smile and swagger.

"For me, if I win tournaments or not, I don't care. It's about enjoying playing tennis, once I step on the court, putting my game. It's what only matters," added the world No.2. "That's why I'm really, really happy to lift this trophy, because I found myself at this tournament."

Welcome to Miami

The tennis tour now turns its attention to Miami for the second half of the 'Sunshine Swing,' which kickstarts on Tuesday.

Swiatek, who will meet either her compatriot Magdalena Frech or Italy's Camila Giorgi in the second round, is hoping to become the second woman to complete the 'Sunshine Double' twice.

The Pole won both Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back in 2022 and is aiming to match Steffi Graf's doubles from 1994 and 1996.

Aryna Sabalenka, Coco Gauff and Elena Rybakina represent the other top seeds amongst some cracking opening rounds. The returning Simona Halep takes on Paula Badosa, with the victor set to meet Sabalenka. 43-year-old Venus Williams versus in-form Diana Shnaider catches the eye too.

Over to the men's ranks and Medvedev will target a title defence, but Alcaraz is keen to maintain his momentum in Florida too.

“Obviously winning a Masters 1000 again, it is a really difficult tournament to win, it gives you extra motivation to keep going," added Alcaraz. "Extra confidence for Miami right now and for what's next."

However, six-time Miami Open champion Novak Djokovic is out of contention, deciding to rest ahead of the clay court campaign. Check out his social media post below.