Carlos Alcaraz rejects Novak Djokovic comments and remains on French Open collision course
Tennis sensation Carlos Alcaraz may only be in his second year on the major circuit, but he won’t let a lack of experience stop him competing for the sport’s biggest honours. In fact, the Spaniard is proving himself equally adept at taking on his more decorated peers off the court, as well as on it.
That’s after Alcaraz appeared to shoot down Novak Djokovic’s suggestion he may not be ready for the rigours of challenging for Grand Slam titles just yet. Djokovic, 35, recently detailed the value of experience and highlighted it helps interpret “how to spend energy on the court match after match.”
“Best-of-five, obviously things are different,” warned the world No. 1. “Grand Slam I think awakens so much motivation and emotions in a tennis player. It’s the dream of many tennis players to win a Grand Slam. That’s why, you cannot underestimate anyone and probably not compare the performances of those players on any other tournament with the potential performance here in a slam.”
Alcaraz, 18, has taken the tennis world by storm after clinching Masters titles in Miami and Madrid this year, rising to sixth in the ATP rankings. What he lacks in experience, the Murcia native has more than made up with sheer skill thus far in his blossoming career.
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“I’m still young, but I would say a pretty experienced player now. I feel comfortable playing in big stadiums, big matches, playing in Grand Slams,” he said. “Physically and mentally, I’m strong. I think I’m ready to play these kinds of matches in these situations and these tournaments.”
Both players have made it to the third round of this year’s French Open, with Alcaraz hoping to beat his best major finish to date—when he exited last year’s US Open in the quarter-finals. After winning 20 major titles—one shy of Rafael Nadal’s record—Djokovic seemed to suggest he has at least one distinct edge over any emerging star.
Provided they both make it that far, Djokovic and Alcaraz are set to face off in the semis at Roland Garros. Nadal is the biggest potential obstacle blocking the route in Djokovic’s section of the draw, while Alcaraz may have to beat world No. 3 Alexander Zverev along the way.
It just so happens Alcaraz beat all three—Nadal, Djokovic and Zverev, in that order—en route to clinching the Madrid Open crown in early May. Djokovic forced him to a tiebreak in each of their three sets on that occasion, but both players are confident they’ll have the stamina to emerge victorious over five should they be required in future.
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