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Alcaraz: 'I’m Expecting The Carlos From Early This Year'

As night falls in Turin, the imposing Palazzo Reale awaits the eight players who, starting on Sunday, will be battling it out for the title at the Nitto ATP Finals. Carlos Alcaraz, the No. 2 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and debutant at the season-closing event, is making his way down a blue carpet surrounded by adoring fans. Although the second half of 2023 has not been as good to him as the first, the two-time Grand Slam champion arrives in the Italian city with his mind set on rediscovering his A-game and challenging for the title.

“I’m expecting the Carlos from early this year, despite the results I’ve had in recent tournaments,” declared Alcaraz, whose triumph at Wimbledon was the last of the six titles he has claimed in 2023. “The defeat in Paris, which was quite painful, made me realise that I have to work harder,” he said of the match he lost in the recent ATP Masters 1000 against Roman Safiullin.

“And that’s what I’ve done. You always have to look for the positive in things. I’ve had several days to train to come here in optimum form. I’ve worked hard, on both fitness and tennis. I feel really good.”


After not going to Basel because of an inflammation in the sole of his left foot and gluteal problems, Alcaraz bowed out in the first round in Paris-Bercy and had to deal with an unfamiliar sensation: the hangover of a defeat.

“It was one of my few losses that lasted several days,” the Spaniard confessed. “I hardly wanted to do anything for a couple of days, but now we’re here, at one of the biggest tournaments in tennis,” he continued. “My team and I got to work to make sure I arrive in Turin at 100%.

“As I’ve shown, I have had a few knocks, above all in the second part of the year, which has been very demanding,” the Spaniard explained. “We’ve tried to cure them carefully, to really take care of them. We arrive here in very good physical condition, better than I expected. We’re going to try and use that to our advantage and do as well as possible.”

With the battle to end the season as the No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings practically sewn up (Novak Djokovic only needs one win), Alcaraz wants to use the relieved pressure as a source of motivation at a very special event.

“I’d always said that the fight to finish the year as No. 1 was my main goal,” he acknowledged. “Right now, I have pretty much lost it, so it’s something I’ll try to use to my advantage. I’m not going to think about that, just about being here for my debut and enjoying it as much as possible. It’s a gift to be here, even though we’ve earned it.”

In bid to fine-tune his game, Alcaraz trained with Djokovic on Friday for almost two hours, in a high-octane practice session.

“I’m not surprised how seriously Djokovic takes practice because he trains the way he plays, and there are no secrets,” said the Spaniard. “Practice makes perfect, and he is practically perfect. It’s not surprising he practises like that. With the way I am, I try to inject some fun into training and in matches. That serves me well. Every player is unique.”

Finally, Alcaraz looked back at his only experience at the Nitto ATP Finals. It came in 2017, when he was playing in an Under-14 tournament, which he won. He was particularly excited to get a glimpse of Federer in action.

“I played in an Under-14 event and I was lucky enough to watch some matches in London. I remember seeing one of Roger Federer’s matches... Now it’s my first time playing here, so I’ll enjoy it as much as possible.”

Alcaraz will make his debut at the Nitto ATP Finals on Monday against Alexander Zverev.

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