Eurosport tennis expert Mats Wilander thinks Novak Djokovic is “enjoying” his rivalry with Carlos Alcaraz in a “different way” to his battles with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic v Alcaraz has emerged as the blockbuster clash in men’s tennis following two thrilling meetings in the last six weeks.
The head-to-head record now stands at 2-2 and they could meet again in the US Open final.
Wilander said: “When he plays Carlitos he seems to be enjoying the fight in a different way to when he plays Roger and Rafa.
“He plays like there’s no pressure and he’s not threatened by him. He’ll be thinking: ‘I am 36 and he’s 20 years old. Yes he can be No. 1, but I will be No. 1 right now.’
“I think there is an enjoyment factor and that’s why he fought to the very end at Cincinnati.”
Those sentiments were echoed by Eurosport expert Justine Henin, who highlighted the importance of Djokovic being pushed to new heights in the absence of an injury-hit Nadal and a retired Federer.
“Novak is finding someone who is pushing his limits,” said Henin.
“We could see his disappointment at Wimbledon but he wants to come back, beat him and keep having fun, winning more majors.
“This rivalry is the best we can get these days. It looks like Novak enjoys it and the pressure is less important. For sure, at this US Open he will play every match at 200 per cent and he expects to go further. Everyone is expecting this.”
Alcaraz won his first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows last year in Djokovic’s absence.
He then beat Djokovic in the Wimbledon final to win his second major, having lost to him in the French Open semi-finals.
Eurosport expert Alex Corretja feels that Alcaraz’s French Open loss to Djokovic where he was beset by cramp will still linger in the Spaniard’s mind.
“I think Carlos is ready and learned a lot from Cincinnati, like at Roland-Garros where he got cramp very early.
“He now knows that playing against Novak is like a war. He cannot overpower him and needs four or maybe five hours to beat him in a best of five.
“The fact he won Wimbledon is very good for Carlos. He’s not just coming here with one Grand Slam.”
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