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Carlos Alcaraz has labelled Rafael Nadal as the “best tennis player in history” as he prepares for his own battle to end the year as World No. 1. The current Wimbledon champion heaped praise on the 22-time Grand Slam winner ahead of the ATP Finals in Turin as he looks to knock Novak Djokovic off the top spot before the year is out.
Alcaraz is set to make his first appearance at the ATP Finals in the Italian city having missed out last year through injury. The Spaniard will be hoping to cap his year off with another accolade as he looks towards finishing 2023 as top-ranked male tennis player, although Djokovic is just a couple of wins short of securing the honour for yet another year.
Alcaraz has enjoyed an impressive season with six titles, including the ATP Masters titles in Indian Wells and Madrid as well as a second Grand Slam title, with a stunning victory over Djokovic at Wimbledon.
The 20-year-old has sat on the top spot this season for 36 weeks and last held the position in September before Djokovic reclaimed the lead and has held on to it with the title in Paris following his US Open victory over Daniil Medvedev. Now Alcaraz will be hoping to reclaim the title with a win in Turin, and believes it could propel him onto his main goal of becoming one of the sport’s best players.
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“Well, I want to be one of the best tennis players in history,” he said via the Western & Southern Open Instagram account. “To, you know, being in the same table as the legend, Rafa.”
Alcaraz went on to heap praise on the tennis great, and admitted that his fellow countryman inspired him to become a world class player.
“Rafa was my hero when I was young, when I started playing tennis,” he added. “I used to watch his matches, finals, lifting the best trophies in the world. I felt, for me, Rafa was my hero growing up.”
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In response to the video Nadal seemingly gave his seal of approval, commenting: “Big hug and good luck in Turin.”
It’s no surprise to see why Nadal is viewed so highly in Alcaraz’s eyes. The 37-year-old is one of tennis’ most successful athletes of all time.
During an ongoing career that has spanned over two decades the Spaniard has lifted 92 career titles, including two Australian Opens, 14 French Open titles, two Wimbledon championships and four US Open titles – trailing only Djokovic in overall career total for men’s Grand Slam singles titles.
Despite Alcaraz’s lofty ambitions, the World No. 2 will have a hard time catching up to Djokovic come the end of the season. The Serbian has also won six titles, but has two Grand Slam wins after triumphs at the US Open and the Australian Open.
In the points rankings Djokovic has earned a sizeable 11,445 points thanks to his achievements this year, with Alcaraz on 8,455. The 36-year-old is most likely in need of a final win before the end of the season to end the year as World No. 1.
Alcaraz will be hoping to keep the pressure on at the ATP Finals in Turin which starts on November 12.
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