Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal ‘disrespected’ by Carlos Alcaraz adulation
After Carlos Alcaraz successfully defended his Madrid Open title in impressive fashion, the tennis world appeared to be united behind one narrative – he is the outstanding favorite to win the French Open.
Yet that view ignores the reality that his two great rivals have yet to take him on in 2023.
Alcaraz’s rise to the top of the ATP rankings will be confirmed after next week’s Italian Open and while the Spaniard is undoubtedly the form player on the tour heading into the second major of the season, two big questions need to be answered.
The 20-year-old has yet to beat Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in a best-of-five-set Grand Slam match and until he does that, those eager to crown him as the new king of tennis need to be cautious.
It is disrespectful to Djokovic and Nadal to declare their eras of dominance are over before they have had a chance to take on the player who appears to be ready to take their place.
So while there may be huge doubts over the 22-time major champions who are facing a facing against time to get back to their best for the French Open, yet comments like these from 18-time Grand Slam legend Chris Evert suggest some in the game are writing off the living legends of the game a little too hastily.
“When I look at Novak and Rafa, there are question marks about their health,” said Evert at a Eurosport event.
“These two have been the greatest clay court players of the last few years, but as they get older they get a little bit injured and we don’t know what their status will be.
“So I think Alcaraz is primed for this title at the French Open.
“Like everyone else, I am jumping on the bandwagon with Carlos because we have never seen a player with so much passion and so much hunger in such a long time.
“The guy has it all; he’s got the athleticism, the skillset, he knows defense, he knows offense and he has no weaknesses.
“To me, if he keeps himself healthy and hungry, I think the title is his (in Paris).
“If Novak and Rafa were not injured, I would have a different view and when Rafa is 80 years old, I wouldn’t rule him out from winning the French Open!
“So I am not dismissing them, but I just feel their preparation isn’t great, but Novak and Rafa have superior experience.
“They know better than anyone how to navigate their careers and they know how to manage their emotions. They also favour the majors more than anyone.
“They could come out of the starting gate playing vintage tennis, but on current form, you would have to slightly favour Alcaraz.”
Like all of us who love the game, Evert has been blown away by the brilliance of US Open champion Alcaraz, but we are all waiting for the first showdown between outgoing world No 1 Djokovic and his possible successor before any defining comments on a changing of the guard can be delivered.
Novak is due to return to action at the Italian Open in the coming days and if his elbow problem has sufficiently healed, he will have all the motivation he needs to knock Alcaraz off his perch.
The great champions don’t know when they are beaten and Djokovic will be eager to confirm as much if he gets his chance to take on Alcaraz in Rome.
Then, if the French Open showdown everyone in tennis is hoping for becomes a reality, we will get the answers to the questions everyone in tennis is now asking.
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