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Being World No 1 is “like a dream” for Alcaraz

The teenager still has difficulty reconciling his position on top of the world with his inexperience on tour

Carlos Alcaraz world No 1 Tennis – ATP Finals Turin – Pala Alpitour, Turin, Italy – November 16, 2022 Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz poses for a picture with the world number 1 ATP 2022 trophy (AI/Reuters/Panoramic)

Carlos Alcaraz reached the top of the world this season, becoming the youngest male No 1 in history at the age of 19, beating a record previously set by Lleyton Hewitt. More than three months after his accession to the throne of world tennis, the young Spaniard still seems surprised by his achievements.

“It sounds like a dream to me,” he said in an interview with Arab News, an English-language daily published in Saudi Arabia, ahead of his appearance in the Mubadala Tennis Championship exhibition in Abu Dhabi – the Spaniard’s first appearance on court since the Rolex Paris Masters.

“Honestly, there are so many times I think about this year, about my position right now, and I still can’t believe it. I’m thinking, ‘Is this real? I’m No1 in the world?’ I’m dreaming. It’s something I have to realise someday.”

Alcaraz: ‘Everyone wants to beat the world No 1’

After winning the US Open and reaching that coveted world No 1 spot, the end of the season for Alcaraz has been a little more troublesome, with six wins, four losses, and a semi-final in Basel his best result since October.

“All the people want to beat the No 1 in the world,” he explained. “I could feel that after the US Open everyone had a target on me and everyone wanted to face me on court. That’s what I have to be prepared for.”

Ferrero: Alcaraz needs that pressure now

Juan Carlos Ferrero, the 2003 French Open winner and now Alcaraz’s coach, also spoke to Arab News media and did not seem to have any concerns.

“After the US Open it was difficult to adapt to his new role on the tour for him. I was talking to him about how he had to manage everything but I think he needed to feel and to live it, go to a tournament and feel that pressure of being No 1, playing matches being No 1. It’s not very easy at the beginning and at the age of 19, it’s something that is not super mature to control everything that happened to him right now.

“He’s in a moment where he needs to live it like this and to feel what he’s going through and adapting. He knows it’s going to be like this until at least the Australian Open, so he needs to try to be normal but at the same time it’s not. But he has to.”

Alcaraz had finished his season after withdrawing in his quarter-final at the Rolex Paris Masters against Holger Rune because of an abdominal injury – but revealed in this interview that this discomfort was “recovered almost 100%”.

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