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Carlos Alcaraz has to adapt to his new role and learn to play matches as the number one ranked player, says long-time coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Alcaraz had an outstanding year last year, winning five titles, including two Masters at Madrid and Miami and sealing it with his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open. In doing so, he became the youngest ever man to be ranked world number one, aged just 19.

Following the US Open, Alcaraz played in just four tournaments to close the season before having to withdraw from the ATP Finals due to injury. 

He won one and lost one in the David Cup, lost his only match at the ATP 500 in Astana, reached the semi-finals in Basel and the quarter-finals of the Paris Masters.

Coach Ferrero, a former world number one himself, says going into those matches as world number one had a jarring effect on the young Spaniard.

“After the US Open it was difficult to adapt to his new role on the tour for him,” Ferrero told Arab News.

“I was talking to him (Alcaraz) about how he had to manage everything but I think he needed to feel and to live it, go to a tournament and feel that pressure of being No 1, playing matches being No 1.

“It’s not very easy at the beginning and at the age of 19, it’s something that is not super mature to control everything that happened to him right now. He’s in a moment where he needs to live it like this and to feel what he’s going through and adapting.

“He knows it’s going to be like this until at least the Australian Open, so he needs to try to be normal but at the same time it’s not. But he has to.”

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Alcaraz will play his third Australian Open in 2023, a tournament he has never reached further than the round of 32. 

All eyes will be watching to see if the world number one can continue his incredible form from last season.

Ferrero, though, says there is still a lot of pre-season work to do and he has hatched a plan to make Alcaraz even more aggressive and consistent on court.

“He has to work on everything. He’s 19, next year he turns 20, but at that age it’s impossible to be complete in all areas.

“So let’s say forehand he has to work on small details, backhand as well, of course he has to be more consistent on the serve, on the return I want him to be even more aggressive, on the net he needs to clean a little bit some of the mistakes he does,” said Ferrero.

“I prepared the end of the season very specifically to try to improve a lot of things. You cannot tell someone that just because he is No 1 that he is very complete and he doesn’t need to work, it’s absolutely the opposite. He needs to keep working in all areas he needs to, and it’s what we’re going to do.

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