By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Tuesday, March 28, 2023
MIAMI—Computers calculate rankings.
Competitors validate them.
Facing Tests: Miami Open Photo Gallery
Top-seeded Carlos Alcaraz arrived in Miami knowing he must defend his Miami Open crown to fend off Novak Djokovic and retain the world No. 1 ranking.
The 19-year-old Spanish sensation took a step closer toward that goal topping Tommy Paul 6-4, 6-4 to score his eighth straight win and advance to a Miami Open quarterfinal vs. Taylor Fritz.
Asked afterward if he agrees with Djokovic that the 22-time Grand Slam champion is the world’s best player, Alcaraz suggested he concurs.
“I mean, I have to play against Novak, you know, he 100%, I would say in Madrid he played really, really well. So it was close,” said Alcaraz, who defeated both Rafa Nadal and Djokovic en route to the Mutua Madrid Masters championship last spring. “But, I mean, I’m agree with him. When he’s 100%, probably he’s one of or the best player in the world.
“So I don’t know how to say about that question, but what Novak has achieved, the level of Novak for example in Australia was unbelievable, really high. So as I said before, I really want to play against Novak when he’s 100% and I’m sure I’m going to enjoy. So that’s all I can say right now.”
In their lone prior meeting, Alcaraz out-dueled the then world No. 1 Djokovic 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) rising to his maiden Mutua Madrid Open final in a dizzying three hour, 35-minute classic match.
The Spanish phenom made history as the first man to conquer king of clay Rafael Nadal and Djokovic in succession at a clay-court tournament.
Regardless of ranking, Djokovic has said in the past he feels he’s the best player on the planet.
“This week I probably am. Overall the rankings are showing who had the best year, and Alcaraz is the No. 1 in the world,” Djokovic told the media in Turin last November. “Not much to say about that. But in my mind I always see myself as the best player in the world, of course. I have that kind of mentality and that kind of approach.
“Regardless of who is across the net, regardless of what the surface is, regardless of what season it is, what number of the professional season in my career we’re facing, I mean, it’s always the same. The ambitions are as high as possible.”
Photo credit: Mutua Madrid Open