Through much of this year’s US Open, both Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz were quizzed on a possible reunion between themselves. That hope didn’t come to fruition as the Spaniard fell agonizingly short of the final, but he did have a shot at redemption when he secured a last-gasp qualification to the Nitto ATP Finals knockout stage.
Thus, the stars aligned and tennis fans got to witness a fourth match between the pair this year alone. While their ages continued to belong to either end of the spectrum, their shotmaking quality remained in a state of exquisite parity, and the victor had to answer comparisons between his opponent and a famous rival while reveling in his triumph.
Novak Djokovic talks on similarities between Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal
With their head-to-head record standing precariously at 2-2, this match proved to be a mental win for either player ahead of the end of the year. And finally, in under an hour and a half, one player edged ahead and reveled in his victory by qualifying for the final.
The 36-year-old Djokovic acknowledged his opponent’s prowess, saying this was his “best match of the year”. The media didn’t shy away from amplifying the value of the rivalry by comparing Carlos to Novak Djokovic’s old rival, Rafael Nadal.
However, the 24-time grand slam champion didn’t see eye to eye on the comparison and differed in opinion by stating the two were different players in style and quality.
Terming Alcaraz a ‘complete’ player is a major compliment for the young tennis star. However, Djokovic’s acknowledgement of his preparation ahead of a Nadal match showcases the 36-year-old Spaniard’s prowess during the peak of their rivalry.
Much of the reporter’s question was aimed at showcasing a new-age rivalry between Alcaraz and Djokovic that stood up to the sheer intensity and entertainment provided by those of the ‘Big 3’.
The winner of the match ended up one step away from lifting the coveted Nitto ATP Finals trophy and proved that mental toughness and a rigorous training regimen and lifestyle alone could dictate how a player performed on the court, no matter the physical constraints.
Novak Djokovic beats Carlos Alcaraz
Novak Djokovic exhibited class, composure, quality and power to triumph over Alcaraz 6-3, 6-2 in the semi-final of the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
The pair had similar yet slightly varying paths to the contest. Novak had a spectacular year overall with three grand slam titles and was also recently crowned the Paris Masters champion and year-end world no. 1.
Alcaraz also had a good year, with a Wimbledon trophy to his name. However, recent performances were a disappointment for the Spaniard and he had scraped to the semi-final stage in Turin after losing his first match to Alexander Zverev.
The turning point of the match was the point won by Novak Djokovic. He won 81% of the first serve points, 56% of the second serve points and won all four of his break points generated during the match—a late-night extravaganza.
Alcaraz did conjure up 10 aces but fell woefully short in wins and produced more unforced errors than Djokovic. In the end, the result was a fair display of each player’s shotmaking in the game.
Novak Djokovic will get a shot at exacting revenge on Jannik Sinner in the final on Sunday but will have to endure a hostile, nationalistic crowd yet again.
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