Eurosport expert Alex Corretja has given his thoughts on the burgeoning rivalry between world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and world No. 2 Carlos Alcaraz after the record set by the Serb.
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Corretja, who has consistently backed Alcaraz to make a huge mark on the men’s game, believes his emergence in challenging Djokovic is “something that is extra motivation because you need to know how to keep finding ways of improving your game”.
“I think it is nice, once you are there at the top of the rankings, to have someone pushing you,” Corretja told Eurosport about the developing rivalry between the two stars.
“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.
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“I think for him, it is something that is extra motivation because you need to know how to keep finding ways of improving your game.
“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.
“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.”
Asked if he felt breaking the record for weeks spent as the world No. 1 was more impressive than a player winning a Grand Slam, Corretja had little doubt that it was due to the demands on Djokovic over such a long period of time.
“Yes, it is because you need to deal with totally different situations,” he said. “It is not just playing tennis.
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“It is about travelling around the world, adapting to different countries and surfaces, accepting all the pressure that it brings to your game, and all the expectations from the outside.
“Of course, you always consider yourself a privileged person because you have been doing what you like, and it is well known and well paid. But that does not mean that it is not a big commitment, you know.
“It is a big thing that you are also willing to do all of that for a long time, and you do not have enough with a little bit – you keep on going. All of that shows, in the end, that you love your game, you love the sport of tennis in general, and you also love to break records.
“I also believe for Novak that it is something motivating for him. I believe he is thinking ‘okay, now I will chase this record; now I would like to go for one more major to see if I can pass Rafa’.
“It is a challenging situation and it is something to get motivated with when you are going on court again and again, and playing in different tournaments. So I think Novak may go on and break most of the records in men’s and women’s tennis.”
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