Novak Djokovic heaps pressure on Carlos Alcaraz before French Open as he agrees with Nadal

Novak Djokovic reacts to his media coverage in February

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Novak Djokovic has heaped the pressure on Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz by claiming the teenage sensation is one of the hot favourites to land this year’s French Open title. Alcaraz defeated Djokovic and Rafael Nadal on his way to winning the Madrid Open last week.

“[At] Roland Garros, he’s definitely one of the main favourites, no doubt, even though he has never reached the second week of a Grand Slam,” Djokovic said of Alcaraz. “With everything recently that he has achieved, he deserves to be one of the favourites.

“He definitely is special. Already he’s breaking a lot of records as a teenager, winning two Masters events this year, a couple of [ATP] 500s. So far he’s the best player in the world, no question, this year. The way he was dealing with the pressure. I mean, in our match a few days ago, how calm he was all the way, was impressive. He deserved to win the trophy.”

And Djokovic’s comments echo those of Nadal, who has claimed the 19-year-old can “beat anyone in the world.” After being dispatched by Alcaraz in the Madrid Open quarter-finals, Nadal said: “He plays a lot with moods, when his adrenaline goes up he’s practically unstoppable. Then of course he makes mistakes because he plays with a lot of risk. I think he has the level to beat anyone in the world, without a doubt.”

Alcaraz made his debut on the ATP tour as a 16-year-old in 2020 before appearing in his first Grand Slam as a 17-year-old at last year’s Australian Open. The talented ace then reached the quarter-finals of US Open last September but was forced to retire during the second set of his showdown with Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Alcaraz was knocked out of this year’s Australian Open by Matteo Berrettini in the last 32 but has since been in scintillating form as he has taken the tour by storm. The youngster landed the Rio Open title in February after defeating Diego Schwartzman in the final, before seeing off Casper Ruud in the deciding match of the Miami Open in April.

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And his transition onto clay has been seamless as he won the Barcelona Open last month thanks to a victory over Pablo Carreno Busta in the showpiece event, before getting the better of Alexander Zverev in the Madrid final.

“Everybody knows the amount of confidence he has right now, the level that he can reach,” Nadal added. [I’m] happy for him, happy because we have an amazing player in our country for a lot of years to come.”

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