Novak Djokovic Carlos Alcaraz ATP 2022

Novak Djokovic’s new rivalry ‘great for tennis’ claims former No.2

Novak Djokovic recently declared that Rafael Nadal is still his ‘main rival’, but former No.2 Alex Corretja believes that the Serb’s new rivalry for the No.1 ranking is also ‘great’.

Djokovic regained his No.1 ranking after winning his tenth Australian Open, and this week broke the record for most weeks as No.1, overtaking Steffi Graf.

However, 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz is hot on Djokovic’s heels and could topple the 22-time Grand Slam champion with success at the sunshine double.

Former No.2 Corretja believes this competition is good for the sport, “I think it is nice, once you are there at the top of the rankings, to have someone pushing you.

“That makes you improve all the time and that makes you learn. I think for Novak, it may not have been the number one thing for him in the last year when he could not play in many tournaments and the big ones, like Wimbledon, he did not get any points.

“But as soon as he has got back into the rhythm of the tour again, he is gaining points and he is seeing that he is growing. He is seeing that the young ones are pushing him as well.”

While Djokovic is able to play all four majors this year, compared to only two in 2022, it is seeming unlikely that he will be able to participate at Indian Wells and Miami due to the vaccination rules that are currently in place in the USA.

The Serb has applied for a ‘special permit’ but there has been no confirmation as to whether it has been accepted or rejected, with Indian Wells beginning next week.

With Roger Federer now retired and Rafael Nadal spending a lot of time on the injury sidelines, Corretja spoke of how it is ‘great’ for Djokovic to still have someone pushing him to improve all the time.

“This is great for tennis, and it is great for them because, at the end of the day, the reason why Rafa, Roger and Novak were so good was because they were in the same era and they needed to improve,” said Corretja.

He added, “Otherwise, it was not enough from what you did last year, you need to add a few things in order to keep winning tournaments and big titles which, in the end, is what really matters the most for these players.”

While Djokovic and Alcaraz may have a ‘rivalry’ for the No.1 ranking, they have in-fact only ever played each other once before. Alcaraz won this meeting in Madrid last year, and went onto win the ATP Masters 1000 title.

Novak Djokovic made his return to the matchcourt for the first time since winning the Australian Open yesterday, when he narrowly edged out qualifier Tomas Machac in the first round of Dubai.

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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.