Former Wimbledon champion on why Carlos Alcaraz is no match for Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz are battling it out to finish an epic tennis year as world No 1, yet there remains a huge gap between the two top players in men’s tennis.
That’s the verdict of former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli, who has suggested the 24-time Grand Slam champion is several steps ahead of his young rival.
Alcaraz may have got the better of Djokovic in a remarkable Wimbledon final back in July, but Djokovic has claimed the other three major titles of 2023 at the Australian Open, French Open and US Open.
Now 2013 Wimbledon champion Bartoli has claimed the 20-year-old Spaniard has a long way to go before he is a match for the legendary Serbian star.
“One has won three Grand Slam titles this season & the other has won one,” said Bartoli as she was asked to compare Djokovic and Alcaraz’s year in an interview appearing on Tennis Majors.
“One played four Grand Slam finals, the other one played one. It’s that simple. I think we need to look more broadly at how everyone is handling the season.
“So far, Novak is doing a better job. That’s not to say things won’t change, of course. It’s obvious that Novak is more at the end of his career than at the beginning.
“I found the way he handled this season, his mental strength and his ability to recover from everything extraordinary. And I don’t think many people can claim to have the same mental toughness as him.”
The comments from Bartoli back up her sentiments in an exclusive interview with Tennis365 ahead of the US Open, as she suggested Djokovic does not get the praise he is due because he is not a fan’s favourite.
“I feel the Australian Open is slightly different as the Serbian community is so big there, but the other three (Grand Slams) are more challenging for him,” Bartoli, told Tennis365.
“I just feel that Novak raises himself and is even stronger when he is against adversity. He likes to play and compete against it.
“I think people just got used so much to two players facing each other. If you look at the history of tennis it was (Bjorn) Borg against (John) McEnroe, it was (Pete) Sampras against (Andre) Agassi and it was Roger (Federer) against (Rafa) Nadal. You are not used to having a third one.
“The third one feels like the disruptor. You want to cheer for one or the other. You say ‘I was to cheer for Roger’ or ‘I want to cheer for Rafa’. You don’t want the third one that comes in and wins everything.
“It was more the timing than anything else. When you talk to all the players and the fans around the world, people like Novak’s personality and they have so much respect for his game.
“But one was for Roger, the elegance, against Rafa the grinder, who has won 14 times at Roland Garros. But you can’t really go to the third one.
“If Novak had played just one other player, I think he would have had a much bigger fan base.
“So I think he has gained the respect from everyone, but in terms of the love, this is slightly different. It’s just human nature to cheer for one or the other and you don’t want the third one.
“I think when he finishes his career, most likely he will be the only one standing with the most Grand Slams and everything else he has achieved as well,” she added.
“What we can say is it is great for men’s tennis to have Alcaraz and Holger Rune who are so young and complete, I feel they are the two who will take over when Rafa and Novak has retired.”
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