Carlos Alcaraz - Indian Wells 2023

Carlos Alcaraz reveals he was ‘motivated’ by Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal when recovering from injury

Carlos Alcaraz has admitted that he looked to rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal for ‘motivation’ when he was on the sidelines with injury.

Alcaraz had an incredible season in 2022, winning five titles including the US Open, the Miami Open and the Madrid Masters, and became the youngest ever ATP No.1, but his season was cut short due to an abdominal injury that he sustained at the Paris Masters.

The 19-year-old then suffered a hamstring injury when preparing for the 2023 season, meaning that he missed the Australian Open and has only recently returned.

The Spaniard came back to the ATP tour in Buenos Aires last month, where he won the title, and reached the final of the Rio Open the following week.

However, in the final in the Brazilian capital against Cameron Norrie, Alcaraz sustained a grade one hamstring injury causing him to pull out of the tournament in Acapulco.

This injury only kept Alcaraz out of action for a short period of time, and he returned at Indian Wells in the same form that saw him climb to the top of the rankings last year.

Alcaraz has spoken about what inspired him to return in the same form that saw him win his first Grand Slam title, “I look to the big players, Djokovic or Rafa, when they are coming from an injury and probably they have a great percentage to win the tournament after an injury.”

“I looked at them a little bit when I was injured, you know, training. They motivated me to play a good game after an injury in the first tournaments.”

He added, “I was surprised when I won Buenos Aires, but right now, I’m not surprised at it.”

Alcaraz has the possibility of regaining his spot at the top of the rankings from Novak Djokovic in the desert, but will have to get past 21-year-old Jannik Sinner in the semi-final first.

The pair have played each other on five previous occasions, with Alcaraz 3-2 up in the head-to-head, including a thrilling five set encounter that the Spaniard won in New York last year.

Alcaraz has spoken about how Sinner helps push him, “I enjoyed that match [the US Open quarter-final], because I had to be really, really focused in every shot. I had to play my best.”

He continued, “That’s why Jannik is such a great player. Not only with great serve, great movements, it is because he pushes the opponent to the limit. Tries to play aggressive with great shots.”

“For the opponent it is really tough to be focused mentally and physically during the whole match. That’s what I love playing against him, that it pushes me to the limit.”

Alcaraz can become world No.1 with a title at what many call the ‘fifth Grand Slam’ this week, but to stay ahead of Djokovic will also need to retain his Miami Open title the following week.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.