“He’s like a God” – Alcaraz hopes to supplant Djokovic at top of rankings, but knows what he’s up against

Carlos Alcaraz likens Novak Djokovic to “a God” but still isn’t shy about setting his sights on the top ranking…

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

Since Carlos Alcaraz last struck a ball in anger during an official ATP match, a lot has transpired. While the Spaniard has been recovering from injuries to his abdominal and hamstring, Novak Djokovic has resumed his domination at the top of the ATP Tour. The 22-time Grand Slam champion rumbled to the title at the Australian Open in January, and reclaimed the ATP’s No 1 ranking for the seventh time on the Monday after.

Alcaraz, who defeated Djokovic in their lone meeting in the semi-finals in Madrid last year, has been paying close attention and says he sees no cracks in the armour of the Serbian juggernaut.

“He has no weaknesses. Every shot, it’s amazing,” Alcaraz said in Buenos Aires this week, per ATPTour.com. “His physical condition is amazing, his mental condition is amazing. He’s like a God and I admire him over the years staying at the same level, staying at the top. It’s really, really difficult and I admire that.”

That said, the teenager is setting his sights on making a return to the No 1 ranking. To say all that he says about Djokovic and to still be believe it can be done is quite a show of self-confidence from the 19-year-old Spaniard.

“It has been a long time [I spent] at No. 1,” Alcaraz said, referring to his 20-week stint at the top of the ATP rankings table. “Now it’s a goal for me to recover No 1 and try to do my best in these tournaments to be back on that number. I’m looking for that.”

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz at the 2022 Rolex Paris Masters (CHRYSLENE CAILLAUD/Panoramic)

Alcaraz, currently ranked No 2 and just 340 points behind Djokovic in the rankings, will begin his quest on Wednesday in Buenos Aires, when he faces another Serb, Laslo Djere in first-round action.

Though he mentions making a run at No 1, the true goal of Alcaraz is to keep evolving and improving his game. If he can manage that, says his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, good things will surely happen.

“He has no weaknesses. Every shot, it’s amazing.”

Alcaraz on Djokovic

“He has a lot of things to improve,” Ferrero told Clay Magazine this week. “The consistency in the serve, in the return to have better directions, to be better at the beginning of the matches, more regular, because many times it costs him a little bit to start. And on a technical level he also has a lot of things to improve, like his backhand slice, blocking the return…. Things that at 19 years old, no matter how much you are No 1, you have to polish.”

Alcaraz echoes those sentiments when he speaks to the media. If they ask him: does he want to be No 1? he says “of course!” but really, he has his mind on improving his game and making himself into an even better player than he was in 2022.

“Rafa, Roger and Djokovic, when they were young, they were so good, but over time they got better,” he said. “I’m sure I have to keep improving. Realizing my dream very quickly took me by surprise, so to speak. Now I’ve gotten used to it, I have a goal, I know where I want to be, what I want to be, and that’s the most important thing.”

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