‘Ambitious’ Alcaraz taking Novak Djokovic’s record in Melbourne as ‘extra motivation’

Novak Djokovic’s historic record in Melbourne serves as motivation for him and made it clear his overriding goal for the fortnight was not limited to one match at a time.

Melbourne, Jan 14 (IANS) World no 2 Carlos Alcaraz has said that Novak Djokovic’s historic record in Melbourne serves as motivation for him and made it clear his overriding goal for the fortnight was not limited to one match at a time.

Alcaraz remains arguably 10-time champion Djokovic’s biggest threat, having denied the Serbian the calendar Slam in a match for the ages in last year’s Wimbledon final.

“It’s an extra motivation for me. I’m an ambitious guy. I always want to play against the best players in the world to see what is my level. Obviously, it’s a good test, playing against him in the places or in the tournament that he’s almost unbeaten.

“I’m looking for reaching the final and hopefully playing a final against him. It would be great, obviously. But knowing those stats, it’s an extra motivation, for sure,” Alcaraz was quoted by Australian Open website.

Last year, a hamstring injury sustained in practice cost Alcaraz any shot at landing back-to-back hard-court majors, following his US Open breakthrough. The 20-year-old’s last tour-level match on Australian soil remains a five-set defeat to Matteo Berrettini in the third round two years ago.

If Alcaraz is to win his first Australian Open crown and return to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, he will have to do it without long-term coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.

His regular coach has not made the trip to Melbourne this time round due to knee surgery, but the Spaniard has full faith in another of his countrymen Samuel Lopez, who helped the World No. 2 win the Queen’s Club title last season when Ferrero was absent.

“It’s tough not being with him (Ferrero). Obviously, he travels almost 100 per cent of the tournaments. Probably he misses just one or two last year. It’s going to be difficult to approach a big tournament without him.

“I have Sam with me (who) is a great coach as well. He was the coach of Juan Carlos when he was playing. I trust him. I believe in him… I think I can learn a lot from him, as well. Let’s see how is going to be,” said Alcaraz.

Alcaraz enjoyed another impressive season in 2023. He won six tour-level trophies including the Wimbledon crown, defeating Djokovic in the final. The Spaniard, who has not competed since the Nitto ATP Finals in November, is ready to make further improvements in 2024.

The Spaniard is drawn to face former world No.7 and French veteran Richard Gasquet in the opening round on Monday, a player he defeated for his maiden tour trophy in Umag in 2021.

–IANS

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