‘Serene’ Novak Djokovic feeding off Carlos Alcaraz rivalry – ‘It gives him new energy’

Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic after a match

The emergence of Carlos Alcaraz has breathed new fire into Novak Djokovic and will give him a big boost during the final few years of his career.

That is the verdict of former world No 1 Justine Henin with the Belgian alluding that their rivalry came at a perfect time for the sport of tennis.

Djokovic and Alcaraz have dominated over the past 18 months as the former has won three Grand Slams and the latter two while they have also monopolised the No 1 spot in the ATP Rankings.

On court they have enjoyed a fierce rivalry – albeit a short one as Alcaraz only rose to the top last year – as they are currently all square at 2-2 in the head-to-head battle with their two most recent encounters very much still at the forefront of everyone’s mind.

Alcaraz produced an incredible display in the Wimbledon final to end Djokovic’s dominance at the All England Club as he denied the Serbian a record-equalling eighth title at SW19 with a five-set victory.

Djokovic then hit back at the Cincinnati Open just under a fortnight ago as he won a remarkable final that many feel was one of the best-ever three-set matches.

With the 23-time Grand Slam winner’s big rivals Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal either retiring or out injured, Alcaraz is clearly giving him food for thought and keeping him on his toes.

Speaking on Eurosport, seven-time Grand Slam winner Henin says the rivalry with Alcaraz has been a shot in the arm for Djokovic.

“He always wants more, but how can he not be serene? He has dominated men’s tennis for years,” she said.

“This new rivalry [vs Alcaraz] is good for him. He went for the record at Roland-Garros, which was a huge moment of peace. There were tears at Wimbledon because you always want to win another title.

“But it feeds off that and this final in Cincinnati…you couldn’t ask for a better rivalry.

“That gives him new energy as he enters the final phase of his career.”

Following his successes at the Australian Open and French Open, Djokovic will be looking to win his third Grand Slam of the year at Flushing Meadows over the next fortnight.

He missed last year’s US Open due to America’s travelling restrictions for unvaccinated foreign nationals.

However, he has fond memories of New York as the last time he played was the 2021 US Open final defeat to Daniil Medvedev and during that match he had the support of the crowd, something which has not always happened during his career.

Henin added: “Coming back to New York, where he has experienced so many emotions in recent years and felt the love of the public [vs Medvedev] is great for him.”

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