World No 1 Carlos Alcaraz issued a warning to his rivals for the French Open title on Friday, saying he’s mentally stronger than he was last year.
The Spaniard goes into a Grand Slam as the world No 1 for the first time and is the bookmakers’ favourite to win the title. Having missed the Australian Open through injury, he’s won two clay-court titles and is fully fit as he tries to add Roland-Garros to the US Open title he won in September.
A quarterfinalist in 2022, World No.1 @carlosalcaraz takes on a qualifier in the first round.#RolandGarros pic.twitter.com/wd0iyovIRu
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 25, 2023
“Talking about tennis, I would say I’m the same player than last year, only change that I would say is that I’m more mature,” he told reporters at Roland-Garros on Friday.
“Mentally I’m better. And I can read what happened on court better than last year. For me, it’s really, really important, and I would say it’s the most different than last year.”
Having won the US Open to become the youngest world No 1 in men’s history, Alcaraz was hit by injury issues and could not play the ATP Finals or Australia. It was a set-back but one that he has rebounded from superbly.
“For me was really, really tough, because talking about Australia, it was a tournament that I really wanted to play,” he said. “I thought that I had the opportunity to do a good result in Australia, and yeah, got injured and had, let’s say, yeah, four, five weeks to recover that injury. It was tough.
“But the same time, I’m a guy who looks the positive things about everything. It was a good time for me to prepare, you know, the rest of the season, you know, and being more prepared about everything what was coming in that time.
“Preparing, practising, stay calm, you know, practising as well the mental part to stay calm, to stay positive in that tough moments, that’s help me a lot to came into competition as good as I did.
With no Rafael Nadal, missing through injury, Alcaraz is the name on everyone’s lips, but he still says it’s a little surreal to see his name on top of a Grand Slam draw.
“It’s still crazy to see myself top seed in a Grand Slam,” he said. “But for me, at same time is great. Is something that I work for to be there. Yeah, I’m really happy to be No. 1 seed here in Roland Garros.”
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