Novak Djokovic - Australian Open 2023

Novak Djokovic reveals who his ‘main rival’ is in 2023

Novak Djokovic has revealed who he views as his main rival in 2023, as he looks to lead the Grand Slam race for the first time in his career. 

In terms of ranking, Carlos Alcaraz is closest to Djokovic and could even draw level on points with the Serb this week if he is to retain his title in Rio de Janeiro.

However, Djokovic will remain as No.1 due to having greater points at the major events, and will surpass Steffi Graf’s record of 377 weeks at the top of the rankings next week.

Djokovic was full of praise for Alcaraz when speaking to media in his home of Belgrade, “Alcaraz is playing at a great level. I mean, especially after several months of absence from the tour with injuries that he was struggling with.”

He continued, “It’s amazing that he is able to find the top level right away. That is actually a characteristic of a mature player. He doesn’t have so much experience, but he is showing maturity very early on, and with the way he handles himself on and off the court.”

“He is a great guy and has a very good team of people around him. He deserves all his success and he is, I think, bringing some new, fresh energy into tennis, you know. He is a very dynamic player and personality and is very liked all around the world. So he deserves everything.”

Despite speaking highly of the 19-year-old, Djokovic declared that he did not see him as his main rival, “I cannot call him my main rival. My main rival is still [Rafael] Nadal, you know, even though Alcaraz is obviously No. 2. He [Alcaraz] was No. 1, he has won a Slam.”

“He [Alcaraz] is arguably the next biggest thing in our sport or he is already there. I just feel the rivalry with Nadal is something that is difficult to eliminate just because someone is doing great things in the last year and a half, you know.”

The Serb admitted that he didn’t think he would ever have a bigger rival than Rafael Nadal, “Nadal has been the biggest rival, and he probably will remain the biggest rival I ever had in my career.”

Djokovic has only played Alcaraz once before, with the US Open champion getting the better of the Serb in a closely contested match in Madrid last year.

The 35-year-old has had many more battles with Nadal dating back to 2006, with a slight edge in their 59 meetings, winning 30 to Nadal’s 29.

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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.