‘It won’t be easy’: Alcaraz plays catch-up after four months out

Carlos Alcaraz returns to action in Buenos Aires after a four-month absence, admitting “it won’t be easy” playing catch-up with opponents who already have six weeks to go in 2023.

The 19-year-old Spanish sensation won her first Grand Slam title at the US Open last year before becoming the world’s youngest No. 1.

However, a torn leg muscle at the Paris Masters in November meant he missed the start of that season, including the Australian Open, which was won by Novak Djokovic.

Alcaraz also lost its top ranking to the 22-time winner from Serbia.

“This will be my first tournament since I got injured in Paris,” Alcaraz said at a press conference on Saturday on a clay court in Buenos Aires.

“Four months have passed since then. But I always come thinking about winning and wanting to win, even if it won’t be easy after such a long time without competition.”

Alcaraz will start his season in the Argentine capital, playing in the second round against either Fabio Fognini or Laszlo Jere after receiving a first-round bye.

“I arrived a few days early to train with really good players, gradually improve and be able to start the tournament as best as possible,” added the first seed.

Alcaraz had a breakthrough in 2022. In addition to becoming the youngest US Open champion since Pete Sampras in 1990, he also defeated Djokovic and compatriot Rafael Nadal on consecutive days en route to the Madrid Masters crown.

He has also won Miami Masters and ATP 500 level trophies in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.

“It was a very good year. I very quickly achieved my dream, my goal. I dealt with it as naturally as possible,” Alcaraz said.

“After I became number one, I had to set new goals, new things for the long term, to keep having fun, to keep improving, because I am very young and I have a lot to improve.

“Despite being number one, you have to keep practicing and looking ahead.”

He has little doubt about who he needs to continue to emulate – Nadal, Djokovic and the now retired Roger Federer.

“When they were young they were so good, but over time they got better.”

dj / mv


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