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“I left everything on court” – Alcaraz proud of efforts despite agonising loss to Djokovic in Cincinnati final

The Spaniard lost one of the matches of the year on the narrowest of margins to the Serb, despite putting on a thrilling exhibition of tennis

Carlos Alcaraz, Cincinnati Open final, 2023 Carlos Alcaraz, Cincinnati Open final, 2023 – © Zuma / Panoramic

In the immediate aftermath of one of the most electrifying matches on the ATP Tour this year, it was easy to understand why Carlos Alcaraz had tears in his eyes.

Having led by a set-and-a-break against a visibly and severely ailing Novak Djokovic, most thought that the young Spaniard was well on his way to a fifth Masters 1000 title and a second victory in as many months over one of the greatest players of all time.

But Novak Djokovic is – well – Novak Djokovic.

Backed into a corner and against all the odds, this man has won from seemingly unsalvageable positions time and time again.

Sadly for Alcaraz, the Western and Southern Open final 2023 was once again one of those occasions.

Alcaraz takes positives from the pain of defeat

“Exhausted,” was the first word Carlos used in his post-match press conference. For good reason.

Yet despite the fatigue, and the agonising disappointment of a big match lost on the smallest of margins, this remarkable young man from Murcia was already able to recognise the many positives to draw from the match.

“No, I feel proud of myself, honestly. I [was] talking and I don’t know why I was crying because I fight until the last ball. I almost beat one of the greatest of all time from our sport,” Alcaraz said.

“It’s crazy to talk about it right now, but I left the court really, really happy what I did.

“Of course, I’ve been talking with my coach, my team, that we are so, so proud of ourselves.”

As well as a promising run of matches in North America, in the lead-up to the final Grand Slam of the year in New York next week, Alcaraz has once again shown that – at just 20 years of age – he is already at the same standard as arguably the greatest player to have picked up a racket.

A promising lead-up to the US Open for Carlos Alcaraz gives cause for optimism

Alcaraz has played eight matches across Canada and the US in this late summer hard-court swing, winning six and losing two.

During this time, he has once again exhibited his ability to learn at lightning speed and adapt his game accordingly.

After losing to Tommy Paul in Toronto for the second year in a row at the tournament, Carlitos rectified this loss just one week later when facing the American again in Cincinnati.

While used to blowing opponents away with his sheer physicality and depth of variety, Alcaraz displayed his fighting spirit throughout his week-long stay in Cincinnati.

For five matches in a row in the draining Midwest humidity, the world No 1 went the distance. He won four out of five of those three-set encounters before falling agonisingly short against a 23-time Grand Slam champion.

Alcaraz is wise beyond his years, which is why he was able to recognise – even in the aftermath of such a close defeat – that there are far more positives than negatives to take from this final.

“He [Novak] said some matches against me was one of the toughest that he has played, it’s great. That means that my team and myself, we are doing the great work, we are in a good path.

“Matches like this one, we know that we have to still working in the same way that we were doing.

“I left everything on court.”

He always does.

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