Carlos Alcaraz has been warned that his big goal for the end of the season could be ruined by Novak Djokovic. The Spaniard is bidding to regain the world No 1 spot before the end of 2023 but Alex Corretja believes that Djokovic is the favourite to win the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals which would keep him at the top. The retired tennis star claimed that the 36-year-old was a “master” when it came to plotting his schedule, something that would help him lift more titles.
Alcaraz has been vocal about his hopes of ending the year as No 1 for the second season in a row. Djokovic surpassed him in the rankings at the conclusion of the US Open and the 20-year-old has been chasing him ever since, admitting that he thinks about the Serb and the No 1 spot “in training and at every tournament”.
Currently ranked at No 2, Alcaraz’s chances of returning to the top took a big blow when he suffered some disappointing defeats during the Asian swing, crashing out in the semi-final of the China Open and the round of 16 at the Shanghai Masters. And his dreams of the No 1 ranking could be over if Djokovic wins the last two tournaments of the year – something Corretja believes he could do.
“I think he should be probably one of the biggest contenders or the biggest contender to win the two finals in Turin and in Bercy,” the former world No 2 told Eurosport. “He’s been playing so well through the whole season that he’s got so much confidence that whenever he steps on the court, I think he feels that if he’s ready, he’s going to be almost unbeatable.”
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Corretja thought that Djokovic’s chances were thanks in part to his clever scheduling, branding the 24-time Grand Slam champion a “master” of plotting his tennis season. He continued: “I think Djokovic is the master of the calendar because he knows exactly what he needs to do in every moment.
“But in order to do that, you need to know your body, you need to know your game. You need to know exactly where is your pick, at which moments. So I think Novak does that very well, but at the same time, it’s very difficult because it’s not easy not to compete a month and a half and then show up and be ready to do that.”
Djokovic has enjoyed success following periods of absence from the tour in the past and will be looking to do the same when he returns to action at the Paris Masters after pulling out of the Asian swing. The world No 1 has not played since Serbia’s Davis Cup group tie last month, which came days after he won the US Open.
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In comparison, Alcaraz competed in both Beijing and Shanghai after his run to the US Open semi-final. And Corretja has already warned that the 20-year-old will need to get better at managing his schedule in the future. “There will come a time when he will have to select tournaments like Djokovic,” he previously said.
The retired tennis star also admitted that wasn’t worried about Alcaraz’s recent defeats. But his prediction for Djokovic to win the last two events of the year will be bad news for the two-time Grand Slam champion, whose quest to end 2023 as the world No 1 could be thwarted.
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