Carlos Alcaraz will be battling Novak Djokovic at the Cincinnati Open in more ways than one — and he enjoys it.
Alcaraz is coming off a quarterfinal exit at the Canadian Open last week, but will look to rebound in Cincinnati in what is the last tournament before the US Open which takes place later this month.
The Spaniard is the current No. 1, but could lose his place in the ATP rankings to Djokovic depending on how their results go. If Djokovic were to leapfrog him, it would be the seventh time the pair have played hot potato with the No. 1 ranking this year and it could happen without them playing each other yet again.
Fortunately for Alcaraz, he will keep his No. 1 ranking even if he suffers defeat to Djokovic in the final. But even if that were not the case, the 20-year-old has come to relish his battles with the 23-time Grand Slam winner.
“I like those battles,” Alcaraz was quoted as saying by Tennis 365. “I like to know that I can lose, and I can recover it at the same time. Of course, you have to enjoy when the battle is against one of the legends from our sport, against Novak.
“I feel that I’m [the] main opponent for him. For me, it’s something crazy, and I’m trying to enjoy [it].”
Alcaraz is the youngest No. 1 in ATP history and while his goal is to naturally win every tournament, his current main goal is to maintain his spot at the top.
“You have to put goals to yourself during the season, in every tournament,” Alcaraz said. “And for me right now the main goal is to stay in the top spot and if I lose it, try to recover it as fast as I can. It’s something that helped me a lot to show my best level in the big tournaments.”
Of course, Alcaraz’s No. 1 ranking would have been secure had he won in Toronto. However, he exited in the last eight and didn’t look too impressive even in the matches that he won.
The two-time Grand Slam winner is hoping to deliver a much better performance in Cincinnati and ultimately go on to defend his US Open crown.
“It wasn’t a good week for me, but [I have] a lot of things to improve coming into this tournament,” he added. “Looking back to last year, [I lost in the] first round [in Canada] and then [the] quarter-finals [in Cincinnati], and then I won the US Open.”