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Alcaraz: “When he’s 100%, Djokovic is the best…probably. I want to play him; I’m sure I will enjoy (it).”

Asked by Tennis Majors in Miami to comment on Novak Djokovic’s recent statement that he is the best when he is able to play, Carlos Alcaraz said he can’t wait to face the Serb again.

Carlos Alcaraz, Miami 2023 © Tennis Majors

Considering how international tennis is running since the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, there are understandably doubts about who is the best player in the world. Carlos Alcaraz may be world No 1 in the ATP rankings, but Novak Djokovic has fewer points than he should have because he is unvaccinated and also missed out on 2022 Wimbledon points.

Obviously Djokovic would be No 1 if he had been awarded his 2,000 points from winning Wimbledon last summer, thus making the current rankings illogical.

As respectful as he can be about Alcaraz’s current standing as No 1 (Djokovic was clear on that subject at the Nitto ATP Finals), the Serb found his own way to close the discussion when he said — prior to the Sunshine Double — that he is the best tennis player in the world when he is 100%.

“I know that when I’m ready, when I’m there out on the court, on any surface, against anybody, I’m better. I’m the best. And I don’t think there’s anything arrogant or pretentious about it. I don’t see anything wrong in that.”

Alcaraz’ stunning level at the Sunshine double

Watching Alcaraz play in Indian Wells and Miami, however, casts a little bit of doubt on this statement. The level the Spaniard displayed in the Indian Wells final against a red-hot Medvedev (6-3, 6-2) and his incredible court coverage and authority against Tommy Paul on Tuesday in Miami (6-4, 6-4), would give him the right to also believe that he is the world’s best.

Alcaraz was quick to respond when asked to comment on what Djokovic said. “I have played against Novak. I would say in Madrid (last spring) he played really, really well. So it was close.

I really want to play against Novak when he’s 100% and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy (it).

Carlos Alcaraz

“I agree with him,” Alcaraz continued. “When he’s 100%, probably he’s one of or the best player in the world. So I don’t know what to say about that question, just that what Novak has achieved… the level of Novak, for example, in Australia was unbelievable and really high.

“As I said before, I really want to play against Novak when he’s 100% and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy (it). That’s all I can say right now.”

Djokovic and Alcaraz at the 2022 Madrid Open
Djokovic and Alcaraz at the 2022 Madrid Open Image Credit: AI/ Reuters/ Panoramic

Alcaraz and Djokovic managed to avoid each other since Madrid 2022

Since their Madrid semi-final matchup 11 months ago, Alcaraz and Djokovic have managed to avoid each other in tournaments. At Roland-Garros it could have been a dream semi-final, but it ended up being Rafael Nadal vs Alexander Zverev. At Wimbledon, Alcaraz lost to Sinner in the fourth round before a possible quarter-final date with the eventual champion. At the Rolex Paris Masters, Alcaraz retired in quarter-finals against eventual winner Holger Rune — who went on to upset Djokovic in the final.

Above all, Djokovic missed the three American swings (spring 2022, summer 2022, spring 2023) in which Alcarez picked up all his best achievements. Then it was the 19-year-old who missed the 2022 ATP Finals and the 2023 Australian Open due to injury — and Djokovic won both of those tournament with authority.

After the Miami Open concludes on Sunday, Alcaraz and Djokovic will finally share the same draws and could be finalists as the top two seeds during clay season in Monte-Carlo, Madrid, Rome and Roland-Garros.

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