Daniil Medvedev lost to Carlos Alcaraz in the Indian Wells final in straight sets.
After losing to Carlos Alcaraz in the Indian Wells final, Daniil Medvedev said the 19-year-old has "100%" earned his return to number one in the world, despite the absence of Novak Djokovic.
Alcaraz's first Indian Wells triumph will see him return to the summit of men's tennis. Medvedev said it should take no shine from the achievement that Djokovic, who won a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, was missing because of not being vaccinated against COVID-19, meaning he is unable to enter the United States.
"Oh yeah, 100%," Medvedev said when asked whether Alcaraz was a worthy world number one. "It's for sure unfortunate Novak cannot play all the tournaments, and I'm sure everyone would love to see him play because it's just good to see Novak play. But it is what it is, you know. If you get injured ... Rafa (Nadal) is injured for some time. We also can say, well, if Rafa would not be injured he would be No. 1. Well, we cannot know because he's injured.
"Same about Novak. For sure if he would be able to play last year and this year all the tournaments, there is a possibility that the rankings would be different. But, there shouldn't be no 'buts.'
"Carlos is deservedly World No. 1. He won more points than everybody else in last 52 weeks, and that's how rankings work. Yeah, he was also year-end No. 1 last year, so that's something I haven't done, so I'll try, for sure, in my career."
Alcaraz was forced to miss the Australian Open through injury.
He returned in February and won a title in Buenos Aires while making the final in Rio de Janeiro, but there were doubts surrounding the Spaniard going into the Indian Wells tournament due to a hamstring injury picked up in Brazil.
Medvedev, meanwhile, was coming off three straight ATP titles in Rotterdam, Doha and Dubai, including a noteworthy win over Djokovic in Dubai.
He came up a match short of equalling his career-best winning streak of 20 straight matches in Indian Wells after losing Sunday's final 6-3 6-2.
"A lot of confidence from this streak," he said afterwards. "Because last year, that's what I was missing, kind of these streaks. I was doing sometimes finals, semis in Cincinnati, kind of playing good but not playing well enough in the semis. I managed to win 19 matches in a row. I'm proud of it, and now it's time to try to build a new streak."