Mats Wilander has highlighted a factor that “changes the outlook” for Novak Djokovic in his rivalry with Carlos Alcaraz from his rivalries with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
The seven-time major winner feels Djokovic receives more crowd support against Alcaraz than when he faced his two greatest rivals because “he destroyed the rivalry everyone loved.”
Djokovic and Alcaraz – the world’s two top-ranked players – form a fascinating developing rivalry which is currently tied at two wins apiece. The 36-year-old Serb will reclaim the No 1 ranking from the 20-year-old Spaniard following the 2023 US Open.
The pair have faced off three times this year, with Djokovic prevailing at the French Open and in Cincinnati, while Alcaraz triumphed at Wimbledon. The clashes in the Wimbledon and Cincinnati finals were both epic contests decided in final sets.
The duo could meet again in the final of the ongoing US Open, with many predicting a thrilling conclusion to the Grand Slam season.
In an interview with L’Equipe, former world No 1 Wilander revealed what he feels differentiates Djokovic’s competition with Alcaraz to his previous rivalries.
“One element that changes the outlook for ‘Nole’ is that the public supports him more than when he played against Roger or Rafa. Against these two, it was lost in advance. Because he destroyed the rivalry everyone loved,” said the Swede.
“The emotional context is completely different against Alcaraz. It makes Novak happier and it shows on the court. I’m sure he’s sensitive to these marks of popularity.”
Following his dominant opening round win over Alexandre Muller at the US Open, Djokovic discussed Arthur Ashe Stadium being the loudest tennis arena.
“It’s loudest and probably the most humid conditions of all centre courts of all four Grand Slams. For some reason, ever since the roof construction was introduced, I feel we have less breeze and less circulation of the year inside.
“Players are really soaking wet. I can see everyone, even myself. You sweat so much on the court. But it is the biggest stadium we have in tennis. This court has seen so much history and so many battles.
“Everyone knows in tennis that night sessions at Arthur Ashe definitely are the most exciting, fun, loud, energetic sessions you can have out there on the tennis world. It’s the size. It’s the echo because of the roof construction. It’s everything combined. Just people, New Yorkers, love their tennis.
“They don’t care if they stay up very late, post midnight, because they get excited. I love it. It’s great because every Grand Slam has its own charm in a way. Comparing to, for example, Wimbledon, it’s a complete contrast. In Wimbledon it’s different than here. Here is all about entertainment, fun, good energy, good vibes.”
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