Carlos Alcaraz ready to dethrone clay kings Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
Young pretender Carlos Alcaraz insists he is ready to break the stranglehold of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic at the French Open.
The last six Roland Garros titles have gone to the gilded duo with Djokovic the defending champion and Nadal, a 13-time winner, the undisputed king of clay.
But 19-year-old Alcaraz is seen as the heir apparent and many are even tipping him to dethrone the big two at this year’s tournament.
Djokovic and Nadal are seeded to meet in a blockbuster quarter-final with Alcaraz, the sixth seed, on course to meet the winner in the semis.
“Well, I just, if I am winning, I’ll just play against one of them,” he said. “I think I’m ready.”
Alcaraz beat both Djokovic and Nadal, as well as world number three Alexander Zverev, on his way to the Madrid title earlier this month.
“It’s different to play against them (here),” added the young Spaniard. “I mean in the Masters 1,000 or another tournament it’s best of three rather than in a grand slam, but I would say I’m ready.”
Alcaraz takes on Russian 21st seed Karen Khachanov, who beat Britain’s Cameron Norrie on Friday night, in the fourth round.
“Well, I just practiced with him just once, but I watched other matches from him, so I know that it’s going to be a tough match,” he said.
“But at the same time as well as he’s a tough opponent, I like those matches.”
Djokovic feels that the old hands’ time is not yet up and that experience will count for a lot in the second week of the Grand Slam.
“In Alcaraz’s case, I mean, obviously, he has surprised everyone with his results this year,” Djokovic said in the Eurosport Cube. “It’s, you know, he deserved it, obviously, is a hardworking guy, very talented. You know, we all praise him a lot.
“Now it’s time to go back to ourselves. We do appreciate his game and what he’s bringing to tennis. No, no doubt.
“But, you know, Grand Slam is different, playing best of five.
“So, of course, the experience that Rafa and I have and guys like Tsitsipas and Zverev that have been already there for a few years, could help.
“But it’s not necessarily, I think, the deciding factor in who is gonna take the win or take the match.
“You could see that both Alcaraz and Zverev struggled, both of them on last round saving match points. So you know you can’t take anything for granted.
“You can’t underestimate any opponent. As I said, Grand Slam really awakens, uh, the biggest motivation and inspiration to play your best for every single player.”
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