Rafael Nadal believes Carlos Alcaraz is “one step above” everyone else, claiming his only rival is Novak Djokovic

Carlos Alcaraz is often compared to his senior compatriot, Rafael Nadal. Their mutual bellows of ‘Vamos’ aside, both players have cemented their statuses as the harbingers of modern tennis. While Nadal is nearing the end of his career, Alcaraz is busy swatting opponents aside on the tennis court, as he has proven in a stellar 2023 season.

The praise for Carlos Alcaraz has never ceased to wane or please fans of tennis. From ex-professional players to current cohorts in the sport, people have lavished appreciation on the Spaniard for playing quality tennis at such a young age. ‘Maturity’ is a word that is often thrown around the block when defining Alcaraz.

Rafael Nadal lavishes praise on Carlos Alcaraz

While recuperating from a career-defining injury, Rafael Nadal has shown his admiration for Carlos Alcaraz. Both players were highly expected to team-up in a blockbuster union during the Davis Cup, but Alcaraz dropped out of the event because of fatigue and Nadal withdrew due to injury complications.

“He has been the world #1 until recently. Although he is very young, right now, practically, the only rival I see for him is Djokovic. He is one step above the others. My feeling from outside the circuit is that when he plays, the games normally depend on him 90% of the days. I’m not surprised by what happened at Wimbledon.” Nadal said of Alcaraz.

While Carlos Alcaraz did succumb to the quality of Daniil Medvedev in the US Open semifinals, Nadal seems to find his overall stature and play a notch above the rest.

Carlos Alcaraz has remained low-key since the US Open, having withdrawn from the Davis Cup Finals and the ATP Masters 1000 Shangai Open. Rafael Nadal, meanwhile, is busy pushing the limits of his body in order to stage a comeback next year, amid his revelation about his retirement.

Nadal’s comments on Carlos Alcaraz’s rivalry with Novak Djokovic is a highlight of this year’s intense matchup between the two talents. The Spaniard and the Serbian have developed a close relationship over time, despite a vast age difference( which Alcaraz made light of in his Wimbledon speech ), and will look to sustain this healthy rivalry for as long as they stand on the pinnacle of elite professional tennis.

Carlos Alcaraz vs Novak Djokovic rivalry explained

Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic initially met for the first time ever in the 2022 Madrid Open. Djokovic was highly accomplished by then, whilst Alcaraz was a relative newbie on the scene. Yet, the Spaniard showed the world a preview of his world-class status with a thumping, hard-fought three set win.

This tendency to stretch matches to the limit continued throughout the 2023 season as both players reunited in the French Open. Alcaraz had accomplished his first grand slam victory at the US Open by then, and aimed to topple a raging Djokovic. Unfortunately, Alcaraz was plagued by cramps through the match and lost in three sets.

If that would derail any commoner’s game, then Alcaraz is moulded differently. He stormed to the Wimbledon finals where he met Djokovic again and this time gained revenge on the Serbian in an epic, five-setter clash. It was in his post-match speech, that he remarked on Djokovic’s age.

“When I was 5 years old, you were winning grand slams.”, he remarked.

The pair met again in the Cincinnati Open finals, where Novak Djokovic rallied to a three set victory.

The current head-to-head record is 2-2 and the pair were ever so close to a reunion in the US Open, but Carlos Alcaraz was defeated before they could meet.

They could meet again this year, as both players have qualified for the year-end ATP Nitto Finals.

What are your opinions on the Carlos Alcaraz-Novak Djokovic rivalry? Does it stand up to the famous ‘Big 3’ rivalries of Nadal, Federer and Djokovic over the years? Let us know in the comments section below.


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