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‘I didn’t expect such a great crowd’

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Carlos Alcaraz has missed four months through injury, and one of the consequences of his absence was losing his place at the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. However, the 19-year-old from Murcia is keen to build his way back to No.1 since his participation this week in the Argentina Open.

“I’ve spent a lot of time at No. 1,” said Alcaraz, who held the top spot for 20 weeks. “It is now a goal for me to regain No.1 and try to do my best in these tournaments to get back to that number. I’m looking for that.” The world No.

2 knows that the road to achieving that feat will not be an easy one to travel. The current no.1 in the world is Novak Djokovic, a 22-time Grand Slam champion and 38-time ATP Masters 1000 champion. The Serb has also been at the top of the rankings longer than any other man in history.

Alcaraz knows the challenge that lies ahead. “[Djokovic] has no weaknesses. Every punch he has is unbelievable,” said the Spaniard. “His physical condition is amazing, his mental condition is amazing. He is like a god and I admire him because throughout the years he has stayed at the same level and on top.

It’s very, very difficult what he’s done, and I admire him for that.” Djokovic (7,070) holds an 840-point lead over Alcaraz (6,230) in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings. But for now, the Spanish teenager is focused on making his return to action in Argentina.

“I feel very good. I am getting used to these conditions, to playing with the best players”, said Alcaraz. “It’s hard to play my first tournament in a long time for me, after four months. So it’s going to be very, very difficult to win the tournament or come close to winning it.

My hope is to feel that I am okay with the injury, with my body and try to play well.” Alcaraz will face an immediate test against Serbian Laslo Djere, who defeated Italian Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-4 in the first round. Djere has excelled on clay, winning an ATP 500 title on the surface four years ago in Rio de Janeiro.

Alcaraz was surprised

Carlos Alcaraz was surprised to witness a heavily packed audience in attendance for his first match at the Argentina Open. “I didn’t expect such a great crowd, a great atmosphere behind me. So I just can say thank you to all the fans here in Buenos Aires for the warm welcome that I received in this first match and I hope to keep going with this energy,” he said after the match.

“It’s a great feeling to win again. It’s been a long time for me with no competition, with no matches, just recovering. Finally I got my first win of 2023,” expressed the 19-year-old.

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