Alcaraz's emergence as Djokovic's challenger leaves tennis 'in good hands'

By Sports Desk July 04, 2023

Carlos Alcaraz emerging as a contender for Novak Djokovic's world number-one crown leaves tennis "in good hands" after Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal's impact lessened.

That was the message from two-time major finalist Mark Philippoussis, who believes Alcaraz has what it takes to hold off Djokovic in the battle for the men's top spot.

Alcaraz triumphed at The Queen's Club on Sunday to move back to the top of the ATP rankings, with the 20-year-old seeing himself as a favourite to win at Wimbledon.

Jeremy Chardy will be Alcaraz's first opponent at the grass-court major on Tuesday and former player-turned-coach Philippoussis believes the Spanish youngster has all the skills to down Djokovic.

Philippoussis told Stats Perform: "I think the sport is in good hands. He's somebody that has his mind on looking to take over but looking to do it right now and not just wait until Djokovic has gone.

"Djokovic got to number one, Alcaraz took it back just now by winning Queen's, and by him winning Queen's, it just shows where his mind is.

"He's another guy that has been a grand slam winner and number one in the world, he's always looking to improve.

"He's still looking to improve in every way, he's got a great team around him, and he's doing the right things on and off the court.

"He's continuing to try and improve his net game, along with moving to the net more and mixing up with serve and volley on the grass and it is shown by winning Queen's."

Alcaraz and Djokovic have faced off twice so far, with the latter winning at Roland Garros this year after falling foul of the boy wonder in Madrid last year.

Nadal and Federer were long the challengers as tennis' 'Big Three' alongside Djokovic, but with the injuries curtailing their careers Alcaraz's excellence has somewhat filled the void.

Spanish veteran Nadal has not played a singles match since January at the Australian Open, with his troublesome injury record ruling the 37-year-old out of the French Open and Wimbledon.

Nadal is expected to retire next year, and Philippoussis lauded the 22-time major winner for the legacy he will leave behind when that time comes.

"I mean, it speaks for itself. He is so well loved and respected, and then what he's done in tennis, he is one of the all-time greats," Philippoussis added. 

"It is as simple as that, and somebody that tennis will miss, one of those personalities that we will miss greatly but he's definitely paved the way for a lot of generations from behind him to look up to."

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