Novak Djokovic can make Carlos Alcaraz eat his own words after brutal snub

Carlos Alcaraz could be made to regret his words when Novak Djokovic makes his return to competition at the end of this month. The 20-year-old claimed that Daniil Medvedev was the main man to beat on hard courts right now, snubbing the likes of Djokovic and Jannik Sinner. But the world No 1 could prove Alcaraz wrong when he returns to the Paris Masters and the ATP Finals, where he is the reigning finalist and champion respectively.

Djokovic recently made history by becoming the first player in the Open Era to win a record 24th Grand Slam title at the US Open. He then raced to Spain for the Davis Cup group stage, helping Serbia qualify for the final eight. Djokovic then withdrew from the Asian swing to take a brief break, setting his sights on a strong end to the season.

In his absence, Sinner went on to lift his ninth career title at the China Open, beating Medvedev in the final and Alcaraz in the semi-final. The men’s tour has now descended on the Shanghai Masters, where the Russian is the most recent champion, having won the event last time it was played in 2019.

Ahead of his debut in Shanghai, Alcaraz was quizzed over the current favourites on a hard court and put Medvedev above Djokovic. “Medvedev, I think Medvedev is the one,” the world No 2 responded when Tennis TV asked who was the man to beat on a hard court and whether it was the world No 3.

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Alcaraz did float Djokovic’s name alongside some others but concluded that the 27-year-old was the main man. He added: “Medvedev, Djokovic, Sinner. [Alexander] Zverev is doing great but I think the main player is Medvedev.”

And the Spaniard could be made to eat his words when Djokovic returns to competition this month, especially given his calibre on indoor hard courts – the conditions in both Paris and Turin. The pair would be on course to meet in the final of the Paris Masters where the 36-year-old is a six-time champion, also reaching the championship match last year.

Djokovic is 2-2 in his head-to-head with Alcaraz but won their only meeting on a hard court and is 2-1 in their matches played this season. In their most recent showdown, the world No 1 came back from the brink to beat Alcaraz 5-7 7-6(7) 7-6(4) in the Cincinnati Open final. They were denied a rematch in the US Open final when the Spaniard lost to Medvedev in the semis. 

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The 24-time Grand Slam champion will be keen to take the lead in his head-to-head against Alcaraz for the first time. And he will prove to be a tough opponent for the world No 2 if they meet at the year-end ATP Finals where Alcaraz will be making his debut. Djokovic is 8-1 in matches since the tournament moved to Turin in 2021 and could show Alcaraz exactly why he’s the man to beat instead.

While Alcaraz sided with Medvedev when it came to the top player on hard courts right now, he was still full of praise for Djokovic’s dedication to tennis and said he tried to learn from his rival. “Well it’s difficult to have his nutrition,” he laughed, referring to Djokovic’s commitment when it came to what he ate.

“I hear a little bit about that and he’s 100 per cent focused to be in a good shape so it’s admirable. But I watch his practice, his movement, the way that he plays and he trains. So it’s something that it’s admirable as well, he puts his 100 per cent in every shot, in every practice, in every game so it’s something that I try to put in my own game.”

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