Alcaraz: I'm Not At Djokovic's Level Indoors
As the Spaniard and the capacity crowd inside Turin's Pala Alpitour expected another epic showdown to match their clashes in the Wimbledon and Cincinnati finals, Djokovic played what he described as ‘one of the best matches of the year’ in their Nitto ATP Finals semi-final, which the Serb won 6-3, 6-2.
Alcaraz saw two break point chances at 15/40 in the opening game but he could not convert. Djokovic gambled with two bold second serves during the game to get out of trouble, sending a clear signal of intent that set the pattern of the night."
“He plays the same level during the whole match. The shot quality he has is unbelievable,” Alcaraz said. “He plays really, really deep. It's really difficult to take advantage from that. Once again, he has shown why he's the best player in the world.
The Turin debutant also noted that his lack of indoor hard court experience, especially when matched against that of Djokovic, a seven-time champion in Paris and six-time champion at the season finale, was telling.
“I feel like I am not in his level in indoor court obviously. I've played great matches in Wimbledon, in Cincinnati, in Roland Garros. I felt in that match that I'm in the level… Obviously he has more experience than me playing in these tournaments, in these courts.”
Alcaraz had a mixed night on serve. He fired 10 aces and put 84 per cent of first serves into play, but he only won a modest 62 per cent of first-serve points as Djokovic brought his best return game. The Spaniard won just three of nine second serves.
In contrast, Djokovic won 81 per cent of first-serve points and 56 per cent of second-serve points.
“It's not about just serving against him. He has a great return game,” Alcaraz said. “Unbelievable, I'm going to say. As I said, he push you to a limit in every ball, every shot.
“Probably I played great points, but it was like one great point, then three, four points just mistakes. First ball went out, something like that. Against a player like Novak, you cannot do that.”
Although he was unable defend his ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone, finishing No. 2 behind Djokovic after missing the Australian Open through injury was still an impressive feat. The 20-year-old won six titles to add to the five he won in 2022, including Wimbledon and ATP Masters 1000s in Indian Wells and Madrid.
Projecting to 2024, when he looks forward to returning to Melbourne Park, Alcaraz said, “This match help me a lot coming into the pre-season. Right now I know all the things I have to improve if I want to be there, if I want to beat the best player in the world.
“With Juan Carlos [Ferrero], we have to talk about the pre-season, what we have to practise, what we have to do. Obviously, I'll rewatch the match to see my weakness, just to improve it and be a better player.
“I will forget all the matches that I played against him, the Wimbledon final, the Cincinnati, Roland Garros, and I'm going to focus on this match because I felt like I have to improve a lot of things if I want to stay at his level.”