Alcaraz vs Djokovic: The Rivalry

Relive the pair's Lexus ATP Head2Head rivalry
November 22, 2023
Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic are the top two seeds at the 2023 Nitto ATP Finals.
Clive Brunskill/Getty Images
Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic are the top two seeds at the 2023 Nitto ATP Finals. By ATP Staff

From their first clash at the 2022 Mutua Madrid Open to their most recent at the 2023 Nitto ATP Finals, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz have shown their games and fighting spirits make for memorable matchups. looks back at all five of their previous Lexus ATP Head2Head meetings.

Madrid 2022, SF, Alcaraz d. Djokovic 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5)
The 2022 Mutua Madrid Open was where Alcaraz showed he was more than just a talented player on the rise. After a memorable win against countryman Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, his tournament did not get any easier against top seed Djokovic.

In the pair’s first Lexus ATP Head2Head encounter, Djokovic received a full taste of what Alcaraz is capable of. The home favourite brought a selection of power and finesse to the Caja Magica.

Alcaraz hit 51 winners compared to 24 for Djokovic, and sent the Serbian scrambling with plenty of drop shots. When it came time to seal the match, the teen did it in style with a booming forehand winner to upset the World No. 1 after three hours and 36 minutes and become the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic at the same clay-court tournament.

"I know that I played a really good game,” Alcaraz said. “For the rest of the season I think I am able to play against the best players in the world and beat them as well, so it gives me a lot of confidence.”

<a href=''>Carlos Alcaraz</a>
Photo: Corinne Dubreuil/ATP Tour
Roland Garros 2023, SF, Djokovic d. Alcaraz 6-3, 5-7, 6-1, 6-1
When the 2023 Roland Garros draw came out, all eyes were on the potential of a semi-final blockbuster between Djokovic and Alcaraz. After their scintillating clash in Madrid, would Alcaraz be able to replicate his level against the World No. 1 across five sets?

Djokovic seemed in command early, but Alcaraz worked hard to win the second set and when he did, a classic seemed in the works. But instead, the Spaniard began suffering from cramp early in the third set and was never able to physically recover.

Djokovic was left to polish off an ailing Alcaraz and he did so without issue, ending their first meeting at a major without tension.

“I told him at the net. He knows how young he is. He’s got plenty of time ahead of him, so he’s going to win this tournament I’m sure many many times,” Djokovic said. “He’s an unbelievable player, an incredible competitor and a very nice guy, so he deserves all the applause and all the support.”

Alcaraz was open about his feelings after the loss to the eventual champion. He said: “I’m disappointed in myself honestly, and in a match like this, coming to this match with great feelings, feeling great physically, and cramping at the end of the second set, beginning of the third set, it was really disappointing. But these kind of things happen, and I have to deal with that.”

Caros Alcaraz/<a href=''>Novak Djokovic</a>
Photo: Getty Images
Wimbledon 2023, F, Alcaraz d. Djokovic 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4
Alcaraz did not need to wait long to take his shot at revenge against Djokovic. But entering the Wimbledon final, all eyes were on the Serbian’s chase for history. Just two years after coming within one match of winning the Grand Slam (capturing all four majors in the same season), Djokovic was again in good position, having triumphed at the Australian Open, Roland Garros, and being back in the Wimbledon final.

After the pair’s semi-final in Paris, Djokovic was the firm favourite at SW19. Not only had he demonstrated he was up for his younger rival’s challenge, but he was a seven-time Wimbledon champion, while Alcaraz had played just two grass-court tournaments in his career before 2023.

When the 23-time major winner stormed through the opening set, he appeared well on his way to extending his winning streak at the event to 35. Djokovic earned set point at 6/5 in the second-set tie-break but missed a neutral backhand into the net, changing the course of the match and history.

Alcaraz sprang to life, eventually winning a four-hour, 42-minute battle to earn his second major title.

“It’s a dream come true for me,” Alcaraz said. “As I said before, of course it’s great to win, but even if I had lost, I would be really proud of myself with this amazing run. Making history in this beautiful tournament, playing a final against a legend of our sport."

Cincinnati 2023, F, Djokovic d. Alcaraz 5-7, 7-6(7), 7-6(4)
Fresh off a classic Wimbledon final, fans were once again in for a treat in the final of the Western & Southern Open, the pair’s first match on hard court.

Just a few months after Alcaraz was physically out of sorts at Roland Garros, it was Djokovic who did not look like himself in the Cincinnati final. Alcaraz firmly controlled the match up a set and a break as he looked to dial up his charge for ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone.

Had Alcaraz put together two service holds from 4-3 in the second set, the match might have been forgettable. But instead, he gave his opponent an opening and Djokovic turned their clash into a classic. He saved championship point at 5/6 in the second-set tie-break to force a thrilling decider.

Both men raised their levels and Alcaraz showed resolve of his own to break back when Djokovic served for the championship in the third set. Ultimately it was the 36-year-old who emerged victorious after three hours and 49 minutes, the longest best-of-three final in ATP Tour history (since 1990).

“Just overall, one of the toughest and most exciting matches I was ever part of and these are the kinds of moments and matches that I continue to work for day in day out,” Djokovic said. “I was never in doubt that I can deliver the 'A' game when it mattered the most and [I am] just thrilled.”

Nitto ATP Finals 2023, SF, Djokovic d. Alcaraz 6-3, 6-2
After four matches of razor-thin margins — save the final two sets at Roland Garros in 2023 — Djokovic scored the most emphatic result of this budding rivalry with a dominant performance in Turin. With the victory, the Serbian moved ahead in the Lexus ATP Head2Head series for the first time with a 3-2 advantage.

Djokovic's consistent and deep hitting handcuffed Alcaraz and denied the Spaniard the opportunity to attack from the baseline. While the 20-year-old was not at his best for much of the match, he fashioned a late push with big hitting after falling behind by a break in set two. But in the standout game of the match, Djokovic recovered from losing several thrilling rallies to escape 15/40 and hold for 4-2. He would not lose another game in the victory.

“I approached the match with the right attitude, the right mentality, and I knew from the very first point it was going to be greatly intense," Djokovic said. "He had break points right away, 15/40 in the first game. That’s Carlos. He always brings out his best in these kinds of matches and starts with a lot of high quality tennis and intensity. You’ve got to match that, try to weather the storm, and I did that.”

Djokovic backed up his win with another masterclass against Jannik Sinner in the final to win his record-breaking seventh Nitto ATP Finals crown.

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