Carlos Alcaraz has missed four months due to injury. In doing so, the Spaniard also lost his place atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
Starting this week in Buenos Aires at the Argentina Open, the 19-year-old sensation is determined to climb back towards the top of men’s tennis’ mountain.
“It has been a long time [I spent] at No. 1,” said Alcaraz, who held top spot for 20 weeks. “Now it’s a goal for me to recover No. 1 and try to do my best in these tournaments to be back on that number. I’m looking for that.”
The teen knows the road to accomplishing that feat will not be an easy one to travel. The current World No. 1 is Novak Djokovic, the 22-time Grand Slam champion and 38-time ATP Masters 1000 titlist, who has been at the top of the sport longer than any other man in history.
Alcaraz looks forward to embracing the challenge of chasing the Serbian, for whom he has great respect.
“He has no weaknesses. Every shot, it’s amazing,” Alcaraz said. “His physical condition is amazing, his mental condition is amazing. He’s like a god and I admire him over the years staying at the same level, staying at the top. It’s really, really difficult and I admire that.”
Djokovic (7,070) holds an 840-point advantage over Alcaraz (6,230) in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. But for now, the Spanish teen is focussed on making his return to action in Argentina.
“I’m feeling great. I’m getting used to these conditions, to play with the best players, so at the moment I’m feeling well,” Alcaraz said. “It’s tough to play my first tournament after a long time for me, after four months. So it’s going to be really, really tough to win the tournament or be close to winning. My hope is to feel that I am okay with the injury, with my body and try to play well.”
Alcaraz will face an immediate test against Serbian Laslo Djere, who defeated Italian Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-4 in the first round. Djere has excelled on clay, winning an ATP 500 title on the surface four years ago in Rio de Janeiro. It will be the pair’s first ATP Head2Head clash.
More than anything, Alcaraz is thrilled to be back in action.
“I’m really excited to play here in Buenos Aires. I had four months with no competition, with no matches, just training and recovering my injury,” Alcaraz said. “I’m so excited to play again, to be in the competition again. I’m looking forward to doing it.”