Alcaraz: 'I Am Trying To Use The Pressure In My Favour'
The Spaniard came through qualifying in Cincinnati last season, but will compete as the third seed this week. He has already captured four titles this year, including two ATP Masters 1000 triumphs.
“Right now, I take each match as a challenge for me to stay the same as always. I am No. 4 in the world, one of the favourites to win this tournament, so it is a bit tough to handle the pressure,” Alcaraz said in his pre-tournament press conference on Sunday.
“But I am training at my best. I am training with the objective to improve and try to produce the game I produced during the clay season and in Miami. It is a challenge for me to be the same.”
The 19-year-old holds a 42-8 record on the season, highlighted by title runs at ATP Masters 1000 events in Miami and Madrid. However, Alcaraz arrives in Ohio off the back of his earliest exit of the season.
The World No. 4 lost in the second round in Montreal, but is looking to bounce back in Cincinnati. He is aiming to use his defeat against Tommy Paul as a valuable learning experience.
“I understood everything of what happened in Montreal. I couldn’t handle the pressure to be one of the favourites to win the tournament or be the ranking that I am right now. I come here to train and now show where I am,” Alcaraz said. “The kind of player I am means that I am trying to use the pressure in my favour. I know I am playing against the best players in the world, so I am going to try my best.”
Alcaraz feels that his success this season, which he described as ‘crazy’, has caused players to raise their level against him. However, the 19-year-old views it as a positive.
“I take it as a compliment. I think all the players push themselves to be better on court against me,” Alcaraz said. “I think if they don’t play aggressively or at a high level, it is going to be a really tough match for them, so I am going to take that as a compliment.”
Alcaraz will face Nikoloz Basilashvili or Mackenzie McDonald in his opening match at the hard-court Masters 1000 event. The Spaniard will be aiming for a deep run in Cincinnati as he looks to strengthen his position in second in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.