Carlos Alcaraz has acknowledged that the competition with Novak Djokovic for the No. 1 ranking is a constant thought for him. With Djokovic absent from the Asian swing of the ATP Tour, Alcaraz sees a chance to narrow the gap, beginning with the Shanghai Masters this week. However, Alcaraz aims to surpass his recent semi-final exit at the China Open as he pursues his goal.
Carlos Alcaraz says he is trying to do as Novak Djokovic does in a bid to overtake the 24-time Grand Slam at the top of the world rankings.
The Spaniard earned his first Grand Slam title this year after a breakout 2022, defeating Djokovic in a five-set thriller in the Wimbledon final.
But Alcaraz is still behind Djokovic in the world rankings, with the Serbian winning this season’s Australian Open, French Open and US Open to maintain his status as the player to beat in men’s tennis.
In the run-up to the Shanghai Masters, Alcaraz told the ATP that his ambition of overtaking Djokovic as world No. 1 was always on his mind.
“Almost in every practice, I’m not going to lie,” he said.
“I practise with a goal, I go to the tournaments with a goal. It’s trying to end the year as No. 1, so Novak Djokovic is around my mind almost in every practice.
“I have to practise my best. I have to go for 100 per cent in every ball to be able to catch him.
“He is 100 per cent. I watch his practice, his movement and the way he plays and trains and it is something I want. He puts 100 per cent in every practice and game and it is something I am trying in my game.”
With Djokovic missing the Asian swing, Alcaraz has a good opportunity to close the gap on the world No. 1 if he performs well in Shanghai.
This could result in a head-to-head battle for the top spot in the rankings at the ATP Finals in Turin.
“Honestly, the tournaments that I have already had, I’m thinking about the No. 1, being able to earn the No. 1,” Alcaraz said. “For me, that’s the main goal for right now to the end of the season.”
Alcaraz goes into the Shanghai Masters as the top seed and will start his campaign against Gregoire Barrere of France.
He will look to improve on his performance at the China Open, where he exited the tournament in the semi-finals after losing to eventual winner Jannik Sinner.
“I talked with Juan Carlos [Ferrero, his coach] on how I would have to change it, how can I be better, on that part,” said Alcaraz, who has already conceded he was “complaining” too much to perform at his best against Sinner.
Clearly, I need to analyze the match, review it, gain a clearer understanding, and study the specific events to improve my performance in this tournament. I have only one day to practice before the tournament begins, but I believe I’ll be prepared, and I’ll rectify my mistakes from Beijing.