Novak Djokovic is full of praise for Carlos Alcaraz, but he has warned the youngster he will not give up his spot easily.
Djokovic beat Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in the third round of the French Open on Friday to underline he is back to his best after a tough start to the season.
That keeps him on a potential collision course with Alcaraz for later in the tournament should they both continue winning.
Alcaraz got the better of Djokovic – and Rafael Nadal – last month in the semi-finals of the Madrid Masters to lay down a serious marker that he has firmly arrived as a serious contender for majors this season.
And, while Djokovic cannot help but be impressed with Alcaraz, he has backed himself to meet the challenge.
“In Alcaraz’s case, I mean, obviously, he has surprised everyone with his results this year,” Novak Djokovic told Eurosport.
“It’s, you know, he deserved it, obviously, is a hardworking guy, very talented. You know, we all praise him a lot.
“Now it’s time to go back to ourselves. We do appreciate his game and what he’s bringing to tennis. No, no doubt.
“You know, Grand Slam is different, playing best of five, so, of course, the experience that Rafa and I have and guys like Tsitsipas and Zverev that have been already there for a few years, could help,” he explained.
“But it’s not necessarily, I think, the deciding factor in who is gonna take the win or take the match.
“You could see that both Alcaraz and Zverev struggled, both of them on last round saving match points. So you know you can’t take anything for granted.
“You can’t underestimate any opponent. As I said, Grand Slam really awakens, uh, the biggest motivation and inspiration to play your best for every single player.”
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