Carlos Alcaraz: Djokovic is the best in numbers, but that doesn't mean he's the GOAT

Before leaving for Rio de Janeiro, Alcaraz gave an extensive interview to the respected Spanish newspaper "Marca"

by Sededin Dedovic
Carlos Alcaraz: Djokovic is the best in numbers, but that doesn't mean he's the GOAT
© Buda Mendes / Getty Images

Spanish tennis player Carlos Alcaraz, currently the second tennis player in the world, suffered an involuntary ankle injury last night that forced him to surrender the match to Tiago Monteiro at the tournament in Rio de Janeiro, continuing a series of slightly weaker results this year.

When he got so close to Novak Djokovic on the ATP list that he was "looking at his back" he suffered a misfortune that is common in sports, but it comes at probably the worst possible time in the last few years for Carlos Alcaraz.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain reacts in pain during the singles match against Thiago Monteiro of Brazil during day two of ATP 500 Rio © Buda Mendes / Getty Images

Last week, we wrote about the unique opportunity for Alcaraz to catch up with Novak Djokovic, because the Spaniard came very close to him in terms of the number of points on the ATP list.

Currently, the difference is only 750 points between the two, but after withdrawing from the tournament in Rio, it will be much more difficult. Novak Djokovic's next confirmed tournament is the Masters 1000 tournament in Paris, which starts on March 6th, 2024.

He announced this participation himself recently. Djokovic is already 36 years old and does not play some less important tournaments for him. Since Alacaraz entered the world of professional tennis, he quickly reached the top and created a rivalry with Novak Djokovic.

Alcaraz captured his first Wimbledon title in July 2023, defeating Novak Djokovic in a thrilling five-set final. This was a historic win, making him the youngest Wimbledon champion since 2003 and the first player to ever win a Grand Slam tie-break against Djokovic.

Before traveling to Rio, Alcaraz gave an extensive interview to the respected Spanish newspaper "Marca". One of the most interesting questions concerned his opinion on who is the best tennis player of all time. While his compatriot Rafael Nadal admitted that it was Novak Djokovic, Alcaraz did not want to do the same.

"Everyone has their own point of view. For some, Djokovic is the best, for others, Rafa, for others, Federer. Rafa said that Djokovic is the best in terms of numbers, and I think so too. In terms of numbers, Djokovic is the best in history, there is no doubt about that.

I believe that the question of who is the best is something that goes beyond numbers. All three are there and for me all three are greats," said Alcaraz, giving his opinion on this eternal question. As for his own ambitions, Alcaraz points out that he would like to surpass Djokovic's record of 24 Grand Slam titles, but at the same time he is aware that this is an extremely ambitious goal.

Alcaraz has stated several times so far that he has set himself a professional goal of breaking Novak Djokovic's records, for which he will need many years, consistency in a good game and, most importantly, luck. Alcaraz is quite young and has great potential with his confidence and hard work Novak could reach.

"Having 24 Grand Slam titles is a big ambition. Of course I want it, even more, but it's a really high goal," emphasized the young Spaniard.

Carlos Alcaraz of Spain reacts after loses a point in the Semi Finals singles match against Nicolas Jarry of Chile at Argentina © Marcelo Endelli / Getty Images

However, 2024 was not the brightest year for Alcaraz.

Although he believes that he is not far from his best level, he admits that he still has a lot of work to do in order to reach the top level that he has demonstrated in the past, both in tennis skills and in mental strength and confidence.

The end of last season was quite bad for Alcaraz, a couple of painful defeats against much lower ranked tennis players affected his distinctive self-confidence. Then this season didn't start the way the young Spaniard expected either, with his elimination from the Australian Open.

Carlos Alcaraz was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open this year. He lost to Alexander Zverev. "I think I'm not far, but I still have to work to reach the level I've shown on several occasions, both in tennis and in self-confidence, knowing how to handle certain situations.

The season is very long, I don't pay attention to that. I want titles, I want a good result in every tournament I play in. I try not to be under so much pressure. You have to learn from every defeat," says Alcaraz. In recent months, Alcaraz has experienced several painful defeats, especially the defeat by Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Final Masters, which is held in Turin, Italy.

The young sleeper admitted that it was so difficult that it brought him to tears. "I had matches and defeats that deeply affected me, like those against Zverev and Djokovic in the ATP finals, or against Giari in Buenos Aires.

I can't remember exactly which match was the one after which I cried, but it seems to me that it was after losing to Djokovic in the semi-finals of Turin," said Alcaraz, opening up about the emotional side of competitive tennis.

Alcaraz also referred to his role models, especially highlighting Andy Murray, a two-time Olympic champion, whose success he wants to repeat himself. "Murray is really an inspiration, especially because of his two Olympic golds.

I hope that one day I can achieve the same," said Alcaraz. It is interesting that although Andrej did not rank Murray among the greatest ever, he still considers him his idol. In the end, he revealed to us that he would even tattoo the dates of his Grand Slam titles, as he had already done with the dates of his Wimbledon and US Open wins, in case he won the remaining Grand Slams and Olympic gold.

Carlos Alcaraz