(Rome) Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, who have only crossed paths since the start of the season, are preparing to play their first joint tournament in 2023 in Rome, the last Masters 1000 before Roland Garros, from Wednesday.
Even then, circumstances prevented the world No. 1 in the world and the one who would certainly oust him from the throne of world tennis after the Italian Championship with the simple condition of playing at least one match there, to appear at the same table.
First there was the muscle injury in his right leg that denied Alcaraz the Australian Open, where Djokovic prevailed on the 22nd.H times in Grand Slams and equaled Rafael Nadal’s record – keeping him out of the ring for almost four months due to a muscle in his left hip.
Then there was the impossibility – about to be lifted – that a Serb, not immune to COVID-19, would participate in the Masters 1000 in Indian Wells and Miami. The young Spaniard, who chose the South American tour in February on clay to start his season, won in California and stopped in the semifinals in Florida.
Finally, there was a stalemate against Alcaraz on Monte Carlo, the first Masters 1000 of the European season in yellow, to give themselves time to breathe, followed up in Madrid by Djokovic, not in his best form since his recovery.
elbow to watch
“Carlitos” arrives in the Italian capital, for the first time, with the strength of the Barcelona-Madrid double, and has won 19 victories and three titles, in twenty matches on clay in 2023.
His consistency is remarkable: five finals played in six tournaments since his late start to the season less than three months ago.
“It’s a very good point, I appreciate Juan Carlos Ferrero’s protection. It’s something we’re working on, it’s a goal not to try to have a fluctuating level of play from tournament to tournament, but to maintain a certain level throughout. For now, I’m getting there, I’m happy very. “
The last path of “Noll”, the cup holder in Rome, is less joyful: in Monte Carlo as in Banja Luka (Bosnia) in April, he lost in his second match (against Musetti and Lajovic), far from showing. Best face and again annoyed him with his right elbow which was causing him pain several years ago.
Three weeks before Roland Garros, we will necessarily monitor the state of his expression.
Djokovic will start either against young Frenchman Luca van Asch (85H), as in Banja Luka, or against Argentine Thomas Martin Echeverri (61H). the following? Dimitrov’s sequence is likely to be difficult (33H), Nouri (13H), Ron (7H) or Auger-Aliassime (10H), and wrong (8H) in the last box.
Alcaraz will start it against another Spaniard, Albert Ramos (72H), or the Italian Francesco Passaro (126H). In his career after that, a round of 16 meeting with Borna Couric (16H), reached the new semi-final in Madrid, in the quarter-finals against Stefanos Tsitsipas (5H), the outgoing finalist in Rome, and the semi-finalist against Rublev (6H), Zverev (22H) or why not Medvedev (3H).
If both reach the final, the 2022 US Open winner, who has since become the youngest world No. 1 ranked player in history, will go there with the advantage that he emerged victorious from his unique showdown with Djokovic. , one year ago in Madrid (6-7 [5/7]7-5, 7-6 [7/5] in the semi-finals).
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