Carlos Alcaraz raring to go in Rome with return to No 1 looming

Carlos Alcaraz in action

Before playing Albert Ramos-Vinolas in an all-Spanish match in the Italian Open, world No 2 Carlos Alcaraz claimed on Friday that he is in good touch.

The sensation of the last two seasons, Alcaraz, who has won consecutive titles in Barcelona and Madrid, enters the clay court competition second only to Novak Djokovic on the rankings and will overtake the great champion upon competing in a match in Rome.

To retake first place in the rankings before the French Open, which begins later this month, the 20-year-old merely has to turn up to his match against compatriot Ramos-Vinolas on Friday in Rome.

His first encounter in the Italian city, a competition that is a reliable predictor of Roland Garros form, will come on Friday.

Alcaraz missed the event in Rome last season after picking up some niggles on his way to titles in Barcelona and Madrid.

However this term has seen him match his winning efforts in Spain without the pain of injury.

Alcaraz was grateful for a slightly longer than normal break afforded by the tournaments structure, which sees the No 2 only pressed into action on Saturday after winning in Madrid six days prior.

He has enjoyed succesful hit outs with frequent training partners and feels that he is primed for another strong performance.

“I’m feeling very good, I have trained a couple of times, yesterday with Juanqui (Ferrero), today with Stefanos (Tsitsipas), and I felt pretty good as I’m hitting the ball well,” Alcaraz told reporters.

“The conditions are different and it is my first time in Rome. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like, but the early sensations have been good.”

Alcaraz and top seed Djokovic are competing in Rome’s event this week for the first time this season, and they are on opposing sides of the draw.

Djokovic has had a difficult start to the European clay-court season after losing in the quarterfinals of Banja Luka, following his last 16 exit at the Monte Carlo Masters, and then withdrawing from Madrid due to an elbow injury.

Alcaraz is delighted to finally get the chance to line up alongside Djokovic although both men will need to reach the final to force a meeting.

“Being in the same tournament as Novak is great, having him here and learning from him. It’s always good having the best tennis players in the world in the tournament, it’s great,” said Alcaraz.

“I hope to meet him in the final. Yeah, I always say that as a tennis fan I always want to see the best players in the world, to watch them, learn from them, because you have to learn from everyone.”

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