Novak Djokovic opponent explains difference between playing the Serb and Carlos Alcaraz

Novak Djokovic opponent explains difference between playing the Serb and Carlos Alcaraz

Alexandre Muller has compared the challenge of facing Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz after losing to the Serbian legend in the opening round of the 2023 US Open.

The world No 84 declared the challenge of playing Djokovic was “more complicated” because the 23-time major winner “doesn’t give any free points.”

Muller was crushed 6-0, 6-2, 6-3 by Djokovic in the first round of the hard-court major on Monday, with the world No 2 winning the first eight games of the match.

The Frenchman faced eventual champion Alcaraz in the second round of the 2023 Wimbledon Championships last month. The 26-year-old was beaten 6-4, 7-6(2), 6-3 – a much more competitive score-line than in his loss to Djokovic.

Djokovic will take on world No 76 Bernabe Zapata Miralles in the second round of the US Open on Wednesday.

Speaking following his opening round exit, Muller discussed the difficulties he encountered against the three-time US Open champion.

“I wasn’t on cloud nine and didn’t play my best tennis, but I played my game. But he was really strong. In addition, I have a game that suits him because I play from the distance and in this area he is better than me,” said the Frenchman in an interview with L’Equipe.

“They are two different games. We talked about it with my coach Gérard Solvès. I told him that against Alcaraz, I knew I was going to score plays. He tries a lot, so he makes a lot more mistakes.

“But against Novak, I felt like if he wanted to put me three times 6-0, he could do it. He’s so solid, he doesn’t give any free points and it’s more complicated for me. With Alcaraz, I have a little more air to win games.”

The world No 84 also tweeted after the match: “You were right @DjokerNole, being ‘good looking’ was not enough. Thanks you @usopen, I did my best and I had a blast playing on the biggest court in the world.”

Ahead of the tournament, Djokovic spoke about trying to enjoy the New York Grand Slam , which he is playing for the first time since 2021.

“Yeah, I mean, I’m trying to have fun. As I said, staying in the city, the city gives you a lot of energy to some point. I’m really enjoying myself. Waterdrop has organized the great event yesterday at the Times Square. It was the first time I played tennis at the Times Square,” he said in his pre-tournament press conference.

“It was fun with kids from one of the local tennis clubs. There’s so much to do and so much to see. Obviously you have to balance it well with your commitments here on-site, training and preparing and recovering. I wouldn’t say it has changed too much.

“I’m trying to juggle, I guess, with commitments that I have off the court with sponsors, some PR activities. Most of the attention is obviously focused on what needs to be done so I can prepare well for US Open.”

READ MORE: ‘One element changes outlook for Novak Djokovic in Carlos Alcaraz rivalry’, says tennis great

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