© Peter Staples/ATP Tour

Carlos Alcaraz falls short against Matteo Berrettini in a fifth-set tie-break on Friday in Melbourne.

Alcaraz: 'I’m Close To The Top Players'

Spaniard reflects on five-set loss against Berrettini

Carlos Alcaraz is ready to go again against the top talent on the ATP Tour.

The Spaniard was naturally disappointed after narrowly failing to complete a stunning comeback against World No. 7 Matteo Berrettini in the Australian Open third round on Friday, but the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion doesn’t think he is far away from winning similar matches in future.

“I feel I’m close to the top players,” said Alcaraz in his post-match press conference after his five-set defeat. “Berrettini is World No. 7 as of today, and I almost defeated him. I’ve already beaten some Top 10 players. With the level I showed today and the feelings I have, I think that I’m ready to be among those kinds of players.

“When I've played against the top players, apart from against Rafa [at the 2021 Madrid Masters 1000 tournament], I was close. I think I have the level to play against the top players. I'm getting closer every tournament that I'm playing.”

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Alcaraz cited seventh-seeded Berrettini’s performance as a good example of the sort of level he needs to maintain to push on from his current career-high ATP Ranking of No. 31.

“Berrettini played an amazing match,” said the 18-year-old. “You have to recognise what your opponents do well. He showed a huge level during the whole match, that’s why I congratulated him at the net. He went for it and deserved the victory.”

Alcaraz had an unbeaten record in fifth sets until the Berrettini defeat. He successfully went the distance with Yasutaka Uchiyama at Wimbledon in 2021, and then beat both Stefanos Tsitsipas and Peter Gojowczyk in deciding sets on his way to a first Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open in September.

However, this was the first time he found himself two-sets-to-love down in his young career, and the Spaniard was delighted with the way he reacted to this novel situation.

“I'm very proud of the performance today,” said Alcaraz. “To be able to come back the way I did, I gave everything on the court. That's the thing that I want to do, give everything on the court and I'm very proud of the way that I did.

“Juan Carlos [Ferrero, Alcaraz’s coach] congratulated me for the fight. It is not easy to come back from two sets to love, be toe-to-toe with your opponent and try to win the match. He told me I gave everything, and that was the goal. Give your best and leave the court with no regrets. You give everything and fight until the end.”

Carlos Alcaraz
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
The pain of defeat still stings, but Alcaraz’s performances at the US Open and in Melbourne confirm he is now a bona fide threat on all surfaces, not just his beloved clay.

“I'm feeling comfortable playing on hard courts, as well as clay courts. It's really important to have a really good game on hard courts, most tournaments are on hard courts,” Alcaraz said. “You have to be ready to play really well on that surface, and I think I adapt my game really well.”

Alcaraz will next turn his attention back to clay at the Rio Open presented by Claro in mid-February, before returning to test his hard-court prowess once again at the ATP 500 tournament in Acapulco.

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