“He is definitely special, he has already broken several records as a teenager and has won two Masters 1000s and two ‘500s’ this year. He so far he is the best player in the world, there are no doubts.” Novak Djokovic’s word. The number 1 in the ranking praised Carlos Alcaraz during the press conference prior to the Internazionali BNL d’Italia tournament. Receiving such an endorsement doesn’t happen every day, and the 19-year-old Spaniard can be extremely proud of it. Alcaraz is in fact a veteran of the Madrid Masters 1000 victory where, on the way to the title, in addition to Nadal and Zverev, he met the Serbian player. The two were the protagonists of a semifinal of rare intensity, resolved only in the tie-break of the third and decisive set. “Despite the defeat I think I played very well -continued the number 1 in the ranking- physically I felt 100%, even after almost three and a half hours of battle against such a handsome player. I recovered well the next day and that is a positive and encouraging factor for Rome and also, of course, for the big goal that is Roland Garros”. Yes, because the 34-year-old Serb has returned to the Foro Italico, a place that has seen him win the title five times and play several special matches. Among these, Djokovic remembers in particular the 2014 final that he won in the comeback against Nadal at the end of a tournament in which almost all of his matches ended in the third set: “Then, knowing how good he is on clay, each victory that I have against Rafa on the ‘red’ becomes a highlight of my appearances here in Rome”, explained the tennis player from Belgrade.
Nole hailed his rivalry with Rafael Nadal as special
Ahead of his tournament opener at the Rome Masters, Novak Djokovic hailed his rivalry with Rafael Nadal as special. The duo are set to meet in the last four at the Foro Italico this week. “It was a step forward in the right direction. I raised the level and quality of my tennis in Madrid compared to Belgrade tournament and Monte Carlo, of course. Physically I didn’t feel my best up to Madrid,” he told ATP Tennis TV. The World No. 1 said his encounters with the Spaniard were “always special.” “It is always special. It always is. We’ve played so many years and so many matchups on this surface than any other surface,” he said.