Carlos Alcaraz has denied that he is the best player in the world at the moment and instead insisted that world No. 1 Novak Djokovic deserves such status.
Alexander Zverev made headlines for savaging the ATP Tour over their scheduling of his matches at the Madrid Open, while at the same declaring that Alcaraz "is the best player in the world right now".
The rising Spanish star thrashed Zverev 6-3 6-1 in just 62 minutes to secure the Madrid crown in very convincing fashion, with the German very upset at having had to endure two late-night finishes ahead of the showpiece match.
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But despite having been branded "amazing" and the leading player on tour right now by Zverev, Alcaraz instead made the point in an interview that Djokovic still deserves to be called the best with his world ranking the proof.
Asked by Marca if he agreed with Zverev's assessment, he replied: "No, the truth is that I don't think so.
"For me, the best in the world is the one who is No. 1 and is the one who deserves it. Now, there is Djokovic. I am six [in the world rankings]; I have five left to be the best in the world."
"Djokovic is not considered a great server, but for me, he has been the player who has made it the most difficult for me to return his service.
"He doesn't let you read the directions of the serve and that's what impressed me the most.
"Apart from the great level that he has from the back of the court, it's one thing to see him on TV and another to have him in front of you.
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"I am a boy who assimilates things well and who is clear about his goal, which is to be No. 1 in the world. I have not yet achieved it, although it is true that these triumphs must be enjoyed.
"It is good to disconnect and enjoy. But I don't come up for winning or getting what I'm getting very fast. I am clear that I must continue working to achieve my dream, which is to be No. 1."
Asked in the interview if he was trying to emulate Rafael Nadal by biting the Madrid Open trophy, Alcaraz was clear that he did not actually want to, but that it was from the insistence of the photographers.
"I didn't want to bite the trophy, but the photographers told me to bite it. They were insisting and, even though I didn't want to, I obeyed them.
"Some people will say it was because of Rafa, but the reason was the photographers."
The 19-year-old's victory in Madrid has lifted him to No. 6 in the world rankings and enhanced his claim as one of the favourites for the French Open, which starts on May 22. Eurosport's Alex Corretja could not be more excited by his countryman's progress.
“Alcaraz is superior from the others at this moment,” two-time French Open finalist Corretja told Eurosport.
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“He is moving much faster, his aggression, it's huge, he always goes with the right shot at the right moment, he mixed it up very well and he's also playing very aggressive, but he also defends well, so it's very difficult to beat him.
“He will still improve, of course, he can be more patient at the time, he will serve better, I think he will just gain a little bit of more knowledge of the game, which I think he knows very well.
“But his mind, he sets up very calmly but at the same time very aggressive, you know, so it's a big combination and it depends a lot on him. And this is such a good news as a player when you are on the court and you feel that you have the power, you also feel like: 'OK, if I do well, I will end up winning'. That's what is happening with Alcaraz right now.”
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