Carlos Alcaraz understands: 'I need titles to beat Novak Djokovic'

Carlos Alcaraz is 500 ATP points behind Novak Djokovic on the ATP Race list

by Jovica Ilic
Carlos Alcaraz understands: 'I need titles to beat Novak Djokovic'
© Lintao Zhang / Staff - Getty Images Sport

World no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz had a chance to pass Novak Djokovic in the ATP Race during the Chinese swing. Instead, the young Spaniard left Beijing and Shanghai with 270 ATP points on his tally, earning only five wins and missing an opportunity to improve his year-end no.

1 chances. Alcaraz is still eager to challenge Djokovic in the season's closing weeks, and his quest starts in Basel next week. Carlos will compete at the ATP 500 event for the second time, losing to Felix Auger-Aliassime in last year's semi-final.

The Spaniard will battle for the title against Holger Rune, Taylor Fritz and Hubert Hurkacz, hoping to deliver his A-game and lift his seventh ATP trophy of the season. If he achieves that, Alcaraz will match Djokovic in the ATP Race, with Paris and Turin left to determine the year-end no.

1 player. Carlos fell to Jannik Sinner in the Beijing semi-final and experienced an early Shanghai Masters loss to Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian ousted the Spaniard 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in two hours and ten minutes. Alcaraz played well in the opening set's final stage, stealing it but losing ground in sets two and three.

Grigor served well and kept the pressure on the other side, earning four breaks from five opportunities. Carlos played better in the opener thanks to a rock-solid performance in the closing stages. The Spaniard lost serve once from the only chance offered to his rival and grabbed two breaks from five opportunities.

They held at love in games three and four before Carlos experienced issues at 2-2. Grigor pushed strong and clinched a break following a forehand down the line return winner.

Carlos Alcaraz will compete in Basel next week, seeking 500 ATP points.

The Bulgarian cemented the advantage with a service winner in game six and opened a 5-3 gap with a backhand winner at the net.

World no. 2 raised his level and broke back at the last moment in game ten after forcing the rival's mistake. The young gun delivered another break in game 12, welcoming Dimitrov's loose forehand and taking the opener 7-5 after 51 minutes.

The Bulgarian served at 83% in the second set and never faced a break point, keeping the pressure on the other side. The Spaniard dropped almost half of the points in his games, losing serve two times and sending momentum to the other side.

Dimitrov forced Alcaraz's mistake in the first game, delivering an early break and gaining a boost. Grigor served well and moved 4-2 in front with a hold at love in game six. The Bulgarian passed the Spaniard at the net in the seventh game, earning another break and serving for the set at 5-2.

Grigor held with a service winner in game eight, leveling the overall score and introducing a decider. With a boost on his side, Dimitrov barely lost a couple of points in five service games of the final set, challenging Alcaraz to follow that pace.

Carlos played a loose serve & volley in the third game, dropping serve and sealing his fate. Grigor served for the triumph at 5-4 and held at 30 to deliver a massive victory and advance into the quarter-final. "The year-end no.

1 battle becomes more challenging with an early Shanghai loss. A few tournaments are left, and I must try to win them to stand a chance against Novak after missing my opportunities in China. These losses will help me improve my game, as I have to learn from them.

I will have to practice hard ahead of Basel and Paris, and I think I can play great tennis again," Carlos Alcaraz said.

Carlos Alcaraz Novak Djokovic