Alcaraz offers fresh Indian Wells hope as tournament faces Nadal blow

Carlos Alcaraz has offered fresh hope that he will recover in time to compete at Indian Wells as the tournament suffered a blow when Rafael Nadal pulled out, with Novak Djokovic also looking set to miss the first Masters of the year. The world No 2 got injured during the recent Rio Open final and was forced to pull out of this week’s ATP 500 in Acapulco but is now said to be hoping to compete next week.

Alcaraz had only just made his return from back-to-back injuries when he suffered a fresh setback in the final of the Rio Open. Last week’s ATP 500 event was just his second since November, as he won his comeback tournament in Argentina the week before.

The 19-year-old was a set and a break up on Cameron Norrie when he tweaked something in his leg and went on to lose, with the Brit being crowned the champion in Rio. Alcaraz subsequently travelled to Acapulco in hopes of playing this week’s tournament but was forced to pull out after undergoing tests.

It left his chances of being ready in time for Indian Wells in doubt, with further concerns when his Las Vegas exhibition match for this Sunday was cancelled with his four days’ notice. But last year’s semi-finalist in the Californian desert is now hoping to be ready in time for the tournament’s start date of Wednesday, according to Marca.

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The outlet has reported that Alcaraz stayed in Acapulco with his physio Juanjo Moreno to keep working towards a return in Indian Wells, and the world No 2 has been sharing snaps from his time in Mexico despite being left unable to play – posting a photo of the centre court to his Instagram Story on Thursday.

The news comes as Indian Wells is suffering a blow to its entry list, with the likes of last year’s finalist Nadal and other big names like Nick Kyrgios, Marin Cilic and home hope Sebastian Kora already pulling out through injury. World No 1 Djokovic is also a doubt for the tournament with unvaccinated travellers banned from entering the US.

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A five-time former champion in Indian Wells, Djokovic has applied for a permit to enter the country and compete but – as of Thursday – has not heard anything back and told reporters that he would withdraw before the draw was made if he still hadn’t received an answer from the government. It leaves the tournament in need of some star power, and Alcaraz has already proven himself to be the next big name in the post-Big Three era by winning the US Open and becoming No 1 in the world last year, also making waves with a feature in Vogue magazine while becoming a Calvin Klein brand ambassador.

Depending on whether Djokovic can compete, Alcaraz will be the first or second seed in Indian Wells so will receive a bye into the second round. It means that he will play his first match on Friday March 10 or Saturday March 11, giving him some extra time to be fully fit.

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