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“All the hard work pays off” – No 1 Alcaraz proud to make history as he sets sights on 100 percent health in 2023

Carlos Alcaraz joined a legendary group of ATP legends as the youngest ever year-end No 1. Today in Turin he spoke of the honour and his hopes for starting 2023 in perfect health.

Carlos Alcaraz Nitto ATP Finals Turin 2022 Carlos Alcaraz Nitto ATP Finals Turin 2022 || AI / Reuters / Panoramic

Several years ago, if you had pooled a thousand tennis journalists about the chances of a teenager finishing an ATP season as the No 1 player, most would have called you crazy. Today in Turin, as 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz lofted and then kissed his year-end No 1 trophy while cameras clicked and fans cheered, crazy has come true.

Welcome to the future…

The Spaniard is the youngest player – and first teenager – to claim the ATP’s year-end No 1 ranking, and the significance of the achievement is not lost on him one bit.

“It means a lot to me,” Alcaraz told reporters on Wednesday in a press conference. “I mean, to get this trophy, the world No 1, to be part of tennis history along with a lot of legends, for me is an amazing feeling.”

Alcaraz, who would have been the top seed at the ATP Finals in Turin had he not been forced to withdraw with an abdominal issue, admitted that he is disappointed not to play this week.

“I’m a little bit disappointed to not be able to play here in the Nitto Final,” he said. “I really wanted to play here.”

I mean, to get this trophy, the world No 1, to be part of tennis history along with a lot of legends, for me is an amazing feeling.

— Carlos Alcaraz

Wise beyond his years, Alcaraz knows that some milestones will have to wait, even for him.

“I mean, these kind of things can happen in tennis life,” he said.

Expecting 100 percent recovery to abdominal injury

Though he is disappointed with the injury that curtailed his season, Alcaraz is hopeful that it will not linger into 2023. The man who claimed five ATP titles, including his maiden major at the US Open, believes he’ll be perfect when January rolls around.

“It is going really well,” Alcaraz said on Wednesday, referring to his rehab. “It is going really fast, as well. I’m really focused on recovering as soon as possible. But I could say in a week we improve a lot. I’m going to say at the beginning of the season, I’m going to be ready, I’m going to be 100 percent.

“The first weeks after the injury it is really important to don’t stop. That’s what I did the week and a half that I spent, it was with a lot of exercise.”

In the immediate future the world No 1 plans to take some holiday time, to disconnect from the sport entirely, before he ramps up his pre-season routines.

“At the beginning of the season, I’m going to be ready, I’m going to be 100 percent.”

— Carlos Alcaraz

“Right now I have some days off, some holidays, to disconnect a little bit, to take a rest,” he said. “But after that I am focused on the pre-season, I’m focused on improving, starting Australian Open as best as I can.”

Not planning to play before the Australian Open

Alcaraz says he isn’t planning on playing any tournaments before the Australian Open, which takes place from January 16-29.

“‘m going to go the first days of January,” he said. “I’m going to say that’s the plan. Of course, I don’t know how the injury is going to go. But I could say I go directly to Australian Open.”

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