Novak Djokovic has looked impressive so far in his bid to defend the French Open title. He is one of the favourites for the title, as is Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz. Djokovic is impressed with the 19-year-old, but feels Grand Slams are major tests for young players. Stream the 2022 French Open live and on-demand on discovery+.
Novak Djokovic has told Eurosport that a lack of Grand Slam experience could be Carlos Alcaraz’s Achilles heel at the French Open.
The Spanish teenager has had a stellar season, with big wins over the likes of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev to his name.
He arrived in Paris with Barcelona Open and Madrid Open titles under his belt, suggesting he could be a serious contender.
Alcaraz proved five sets are no obstacle, as he beat Albert Ramos-Vinolas in four and a half hours in the second round.
He followed that win with a sizzling 6-4 6-4 6-2 to demolition of Sebastian Korda – the only player to have beaten him on clay this year.
Alcaraz is in the same half of the draw as Nadal and Djokovic, and while the latter has been hugely impressed with the 19-year-old – he feels Grand Slam tennis is a big test.
“In Alcaraz’s case, I mean, obviously, he has surprised everyone with his results this year,” Djokovic said in the Eurosport Cube. “It’s, you know, he deserved it, obviously, is a hardworking guy, very talented. You know, we all praise him a lot.
“Now it’s time to go back to ourselves. We do appreciate his game and what he’s bringing to tennis. No, no doubt.”
Djokovic feels the only thing lacking from Alcaraz’s locker is Grand Slam experience.
“But, you know, Grand Slam is different, playing best of five,” Djokovic said. “So, of course, the experience that Rafa and I have and guys like Tsitsipas and Zverev that have been already there for a few years, could help.
“But it’s not necessarily, I think, the deciding factor in who is gonna take the win or take the match.
“You could see that both Alcaraz and Zverev struggled, both of them on last round saving match points. So you know you can’t take anything for granted.
“You can’t underestimate any opponent. As I said, Grand Slam really awakens, uh, the biggest motivation and inspiration to play your best for every single player.”
Alcaraz could face either Nadal or Djokovic in the semi-finals, and he is ready for any challenge that is put in front of him – but admits five sets is a different test.
“If I am winning, I just play against one of them,” the teenager said in his press conference after beating Korda. “I think I’m ready.
“It’s different to play against them. I mean in the Masters 1000 or another tournament it’s best-of-three than in Grand Slam, but I would say I’m ready.”