Carlos Alcaraz knows he will face a different challenge during the 2023 campaign as he will be a marked man following his success this year while he has also opened up about comparisons with Rafael Nadal.
The teenager started this campaign as an outsider as he was ranked outside the top 30, but by May he had surged into the top 10 after winning four titles – including his first two ATP Masters 1000 trophies at the Miami Open and Madrid Open.
He then went on to win his maiden Grand Slam after beating Casper Ruud in the final of the US Open at Flushing Meadows in September and became the youngest world No 1 in the process.
However, he hasn’t really set the world alight since taking over at the top of the ATP Rankings as his record is 6-4 in Davis Cup-ATP singles action following his US Open success while he also missed the season-ending ATP Finals due to an abdominal injury.
Alcaraz knows he is now a marked man due to his No 1 status and Grand Slam title so he will need to up his game next year.
“The season is going to be difficult because I am going to start as the favourite and there is going to be a lot of pressure on me,” the 19-year-old said.
“But I try to keep the good part and see that all this does not go to my head. In the end, beating your idols is an incredible achievement.
“I try to take it normally and never forget that whatever happens in the future, I have to enjoy tennis and play at my level.”
The teenager’s meteoric rise has lead to comparisons with his fellow Spaniard, but Alcaraz is not keen on being likened to one of the best tennis players of all time.
Nadal, of course, has won a record 22 Grand Slams, spent 209 weeks atop the ATP Rankings and broke numerous other records so Alcaraz knows he still has a long way to go before he can be mentioned in the same breath as one of the best in the business.
“There is no point in comparing,” he said, adding that he hopes to achieve “at least half” of what Nadal has accomplished over the past two decades.
“It doesn’t matter that now I am world No 1, Rafa’s entire career counts for a lot.”
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