Alcaraz urged to follow Djokovic and Nadal after ‘wrong things’ remark

Juan Carlos Ferrero has urged Carlos Alcaraz to “look in the mirror” of the Big Three after his charge admitted to doing things the wrong way during his injury layoff. The world No 2 made a triumphant return in Argentina last week where he won the title but later confessed that he “didn’t do the right things off the court” over the last few months. His coach has now addressed Alcaraz’s comments while also discussing the teenager’s battle for world No 1 with Novak Djokovic.

Alcaraz made his long-awaited return to competition in Argentina last week after his 2022 season was cut short by an ab injury before he hurt his leg in pre-season training, forcing him to miss the Australian Open. The 19-year-old lifted his seventh career title at his first tournament in more than four months but later confessed that he didn’t go about things in the “right” way during his time away from the tour.

“I felt a bit guilty after the injury,” the world No 2 added. His coach has now urged him to look to Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer as an example after struggling following his US Open title win last September.

“If he has talked about that, it is because it has happened,” Juan Carlos Ferrero told RNE when Alcaraz’s comments were put to him. “I think it influences him that he has reached the top very young. He has to look in the mirror of Rafa, Roger or Novak, to achieve things that nobody has achieved and they have continued fighting and fighting for these types of objectives.”

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But Ferrero – a former world No 1 himself – was quick to clarify that his charge couldn’t be compared to the likes of the Big Three just yet, though thought that Djokovic, Nadal and Federer could serve as the perfect example to the teenager. He continued: “I think Carlos is far from being able to compare himself with this type of player, but at the level of objectives in terms of tournaments he can aspire to the maximum.

“He paid a little for the novelty, everything I have said before, all this has an influence and he has spent a few months a bit “stuck” in his thoughts off the court, also when it comes to training.” Despite a tough time following his US Open victory and ascent to No 1 in the world – something Alcaraz recently admitted spurred on a “bad period” – Ferrero thought it had taught the seven-time title winner a valuable lesson early on in his career.

“But all this has been very good for him, I think it will make him mature a little more and that he sees things from various angles, that of winning everything and that of now recovering from an injury. All of that makes calluses, as I tell him. It’s going to toughen him a lot more and I’m sure it’s going to help him to continue growing,” the 2003 French Open champion added.

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During Alcaraz’s absence from the tour, he also relinquished his world No 1 ranking to Djokovic when the Serb went on to win the Aussie Open while the Spaniard was left unable to compete. The pair are now in a tight race for the top ranking and could even end up tied on ranking points if Alcaraz defends his Rio Open title this week, though Djokovic will remain at the top as he has the most total points from the Grand Slams, Masters 1000 mandatory tournaments and ATP Finals.

And Ferrero addressed the current heated battle for the world No 1 ranking as he claimed Djokovic currently deserved it, saying: “It’s nothing more than a strange coincidence. They are numbers, the year has just begun. Djokovic is playing at a stratospheric level and what Carlos has to do is be at his highest level to be able to compete every week, getting positive tournaments that will make him be close to Novak.

“From how the year has started, I think he has shown that he (Novak) deserves to be number one. We started a little later. I think it will be a nice fight between the two of them, and also among other players like Tsitsipas, Medvedev or others who are close. Very motivated for this to happen like this and we are going for everything.”

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