Alcaraz concedes to Djokovic as he shares rare insight into Serb’s training

Carlos Alcaraz has conceded to Novak Djokovic after setting his sights on the year-end No 1 ranking. The 20-year-old spent weeks trying to surpass his rival but Djokovic is now one match win away from finishing the season atop the rankings. And with Alcaraz set to lose out to Djokovic, the Spaniard has been gaining some great insight into the 24-time Grand Slam champion’s “perfect” practices.

Alcaraz had previously admitted to having something of an obsession with overtaking Djokovic to become the year-end No 1 for the second season in a row. During the recent Asian swing, the Spaniard said he thought about his quest “at every tournament” and later added: “Novak Djokovic is around my mind almost in every practice.”

But Djokovic is now closing in on a record-extending eighth year-end No 1 finish, as he needs just one match win in the round-robin stage at the ATP Finals to cement his place at the top. Alcaraz has now let go of his focus on the rankings and is hoping that he can play freely on his ATP Finals debut without the pressure of trying to return to No 1.

“I’d always said that the fight to finish the year as No. 1 was my main goal,” the two-time Grand Slam champion told ATP Media. “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.”

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While Alcaraz lost out to Djokovic in his mission to end the season as the top-ranked player, there is no bad blood between the two rivals. The pair practised together ahead of the recent Paris Masters and did the same again in Turin when they arrived for the ATP Finals.

Giving an insight into the world No 1’s approach to training, Alcaraz continued: “I’m not surprised how seriously Djokovic takes practice because he trains the way he plays, and there are no secrets.

“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.”

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Alcaraz will be hoping to end the season on a high after a difficult few months. The 20-year-old won six titles from February to July – including his second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, where he became the first man in a decade to beat Novak Djokovic on Centre Court. But he has since been unable to lift a trophy and suffered some early losses – including a shock opening-round exit in Paris.

“I’m expecting the Carlos from early this year, despite the results I’ve had in recent tournaments,” Alcaraz said ahead of his campaign in Turin, where he has been drawn in the Red Group alongside Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev.

“The defeat in Paris, which was quite painful, made me realise that I have to work harder. 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.”

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