“They’re breaking the limits of tennis” – Gauff and Swiatek learning from watching Djokovic and Alcaraz

Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are the hot favourites to reach this year’s US Open final and if they do, rest assured, Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek will be keenly watching

Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic at the 2023 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati

The hype, all justified, around the Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz rivalry is also finding fans in the women’s locker room with both Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek confirming that they have been following the high-profile clashes between the world’s top two ranked men and learning from them.

Alcaraz defeated Djokovic in a five-set thriller to lift his second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in July before the Serb scored a statement three-set down to the wire win in the Cincinnati final. The pair are the hot favourites to reach the final at this year’s US Open and if they do meet rest assured Gauff and Swiatek will be among those watching.

“It’s incredible. They’re breaking the limits of tennis. You know how you watch tapes from 40 years ago, they’re not playing bad but the level is definitely different, and I’m watching the matches and I’m like, I don’t know how 40 years from now how the level can be really so exceed this,” Gauff said after winning her second-round match at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday.

“I think it’s peak tennis, to be honest. Not just their matchups. I’ve watched Novak play against Roger, Rafa, those two, it’s just peak tennis. It’s crazy, it’s a one-in-a-generation type of thing, and Novak is a one-in-a-generation type of player, and so is Carlos, and they’re playing each other on two different spectrums. I can talk about this all day. It’s really cool.”

Swiatek, who also advanced to the third round of the US Open on Wednesday and could meet Gauff in the quarter-finals in New York if the seedings hold up, said she is a fan of the match-up as well.

“They’re just so solid and good. They don’t give each other points for free. It’s amazing how they can keep the intensity from the beginning till the end. I’m just watching them as a fan because I know that most of the stress they are playing it would be impossible for me to play (smiling),” The world’s top-ranked woman said.

If they can handle it physically and mentally, then I know that I can, as well.

Iga Swiatek on Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz
Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek
Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek in Miami (Zuma/Panoramic)

Both Gauff and Swiatek added that while they watch the Djokovic and Alcaraz matches as fans of the sport, they are also learning at the same time about how the two handle pressure and stress at crucial moments.

“The thing I’ve learned the most is how they’re able to handle the situations when they’re not playing their best tennis. For instance, Carlos in Cincinnati, he was losing a set every match pretty much and he wasn’t playing his best, that was clear. I don’t know. The way that he was still smiling, for me, against Hubert Hurkacz and he was down a set and a break or something like that, he was down crazy or down match points. He was still smiling,” Gauff said.

“I was, like, if he can smile, he’s No. 1 in the world and he has all this pressure, he’s supposed to beat Hubi on paper, then I can do it in situations maybe where, most of the time now I’m not the underdog, but against, for example, like Iga or Sabalenka, those where I’m considered the underdog on paper, I can smile too. I think I learned the most about their joy in matches and how I can transfer that. Because I have a lot of joy in me but I just seem to bottle it up when I play. Now I’m really just having fun and laughing and smiling, and I think it’s making tennis more enjoyable.”

Swiatek, a four-time Grand Slam winner, added that she is also inspired by how the two men never give up when it comes to the important moments.

“I can learn obviously, from how they behave and, like, mentally how they never give up. There were like plenty of points in this match in Cincinnati when Carlos, for example the match point how he saved this was unbelievable. I’m watching more as a fan. But how they fight till the end and, the clash of these two games is just amazing,” the Pole said. “For me it’s inspiring, and for me it’s sometimes, just an inspiration to work harder and to not give up in important moments. If they can handle it physically and mentally, then I know that I can, as well.”

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