Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz will be exchanging fierce right-handers and left-handers across the net when tennis visits a legendary Las Vegas boxing venue in March.

In the lead-up to the Indian Wells Open, the Spanish superstars will go head to head at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on March 5, it was announced on Tuesday.

The indoor venue has staged major fights featuring the likes of Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather, Canelo Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao and Tyson Fury.

Nadal, the record 22-time men's singles grand slam winner, will be facing current world number one Alcaraz in a clash of generations. Alcaraz does not turn 20 until May, while Nadal will be 36 in June.

The match will mark Alcaraz's return to action in the United States, six months after he triumphed at the US Open in New York to land a first slam title.

Already the youngest number one in ATP history, Alcaraz is expected to win many more majors, but he recently said he turns a "deaf ear" to comparisons between himself and Nadal.

"There is no point in comparing," Alcaraz told reporters. "It doesn't matter that now I am world number one, Rafa's entire career counts for a lot. It is a pleasure, for every tennis lover, to see Rafa on the court."

The Indian Wells action begins on March 8. Nadal beat Alcaraz in last year's semi-finals before losing to Taylor Fritz in the final, later revealing he played with a broken rib in the title match.

Carlos Alcaraz turns a "deaf ear" to comparisons between himself and fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal.

A stunning season for Alcaraz has seen him become the youngest world number one in ATP history at the age of 19.

He won two Masters 1000 titles and his maiden grand slam at the US Open in September.

Alcaraz was ruled out of the ATP Finals with an abdominal injury, but Nadal's elimination in Turin ensured Alcaraz would end 2022 as the youngest ever year-end number one.

Such accomplishments have seen him compared by some to countryman Nadal, who won the French Open aged just 19 in 2005 on his way to becoming one of the most decorated men's tennis players of all time.

But Alcaraz refuses to entertain such talk, instead speaking of his admiration at what the now 36-year-old Nadal had achieved over his long career.

"There is no point in comparing," Alcaraz told reporters. "It doesn't matter that now I am world number one, Rafa's entire career counts for a lot.

"It is a pleasure, for every tennis lover, to see Rafa on the court."

He added he hopes to achieve "at least half" of what Nadal has, in a career spanning over two decades and encompassing 22 grand slam titles.

Alcaraz, meanwhile, is trying to "regain strength before returning to the court" as he eyes the new season, and acknowledged he will start with a target on his back due to his 2022 success.

"The season is going to be difficult because I am going to start as the favourite," he explained. "There is going to be a lot of pressure on me.

"But I try to keep the good part and see that all this does not go to my head. In the end, beating your idols is an incredible achievement.

"I try to take it normally and never forget that whatever happens in the future, I have to enjoy tennis and play at my level."

Rafael Nadal has welcomed the news that Novak Djokovic will be free to compete at the Australian Open.

Djokovic was at the centre of controversy in January following his attempts to play in this year's tournament in Melbourne despite being unvaccinated against COVID-19, and the 21-time grand slam winner was eventually deported after having his visa cancelled on public health grounds.

However, Djokovic recently confirmed he will be free to play in the 2023 Australian Open after his three-year ban from entering the country was overturned.

Nadal and Djokovic have dominated tennis along with the now-retired Roger Federer for much of the last two decades, and the Spaniard was pleased to hear of his rival's availability to compete.

"I always said the same; tennis is better when the best players are on the court," he said. "At the end we don't have to create many stories. Even if it was a big mess what happened last year in Australia, it was not good for our sport.

"That was the past. Roger is not playing any more. I missed a lot of grand slams [with] injuries. Last year, Novak was not able to play there.

"That's the past. What's next is Novak will be able to play again. That's the best news possible, especially knowing that now the virus is more under control it seems around the world. So why not? Happy for him. Happy for the tournament. Happy for the fans. That's it."

Nadal beat Casper Ruud in his final game at the ATP Finals on Thursday.

Rafael Nadal wrapped up his ATP Finals campaign with a 7-5 7-5 victory over Casper Ruud on Thursday.

The Spanish great had already failed to make the last four after suffering defeat in his first two matches in Turin, but he finished his year in style courtesy of a hard-fought win over Ruud.

Nadal held firm when two break points down at 4-4, before breaking to love to take the opening set.

He sealed victory in the 12th game of the second set, powering a cross-court backhand winner to move 15-40 ahead and set the stage for a win that saw him end the year with a 39-8 tour-level record.

"I can't ask for more," Nadal said. "2022 has had a tough six months, two Grand Slams, and finishing the year in a high spot in the rankings. So, I can't complain at all. At my age, to be able to achieve and be competitive means a lot for me.

"For 2023, just let's try to have the right preparation, work the proper way and start the season with the right energy, the right attitude, to reach the level that I need to be competitive from the beginning. Let's try it, I am excited about it."

Ruud had already progressed to the semi-finals in Italy for a second consecutive year.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Nadal - 16/1
Ruud - 4/0

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Nadal - 38/16
​Ruud - 19/18

BREAK POINTS WON

Nadal - 2/3
​Ruud - 0/2

Casper Ruud secured his place in the last four of the ATP Finals and ensured Carlos Alcaraz will be the year-ending world number one by beating Taylor Fritz on Tuesday.

Ruud made it two wins out of two in the Green Group to seal his semi-final spot with a 6-3 4-6 7-6 (8-6) defeat of Fritz in Turin.

The third seed eliminated Rafael Nadal when he won the first set and in doing so guaranteed that injured 19-year-old Alcaraz will be the youngest player to be at the top of the ATP rankings at the end of a year.

Ruud stormed into a 3-0 lead and did not allow Fritz a way back into the first set, but the American broke for the first time to level the match when his opponent was serving to stay in the second.

The battling Fritz fended off two break points in the fifth game of the deciding set and saved two match points as he fought back from 5-1 down in the tie-break to draw level at 6-6.

Norwegian Ruud was not to be denied, though, becoming the first player to reach the semi-finals when eighth seed Fritz drilled a forehand long at the Palbata Alpitour.

Fritz will do battle with Felix Auger-Aliassime on Thursday for a place in the last four.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Ruud - 14/3
Fritz - 15/0

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Ruud - 36/4
Fritz  - 36/1

BREAK POINTS WON

Ruud - 1/5
Auger-Aliassime - 1/4

Rafael Nadal is not certain he will return to his very best form and full fitness in 2023 – but he has no doubt he will give it his very best shot.

The veteran Spaniard went down 6-3 6-4 to Felix Auger-Aliassime on Tuesday at the ATP Finals, his second defeat in the round-robin group stage and a fourth consecutive loss overall.

This season began in stunning style for Nadal as he won the Australian Open and followed that with a 14th French Open title, taking his tally of grand slams to 22 - a record haul for a male singles player.

However, Nadal has a serious ongoing foot problem, and the 36-year-old had to withdraw from Wimbledon prior to a semi-final against Nick Kyrgios after suffering a torn abdomen.

Injuries have prevented him playing a full season, and he was clearly not at his best against Auger-Aliassime, who has Nadal's uncle, Toni Nadal, on his coaching team.

Asked whether he will take an optimistic or doubtful approach into next season, Nadal said: "You can be both ways. You can be optimistic and have doubts. Why not?

"For me the doubts, as I said plenty of times, are very good in this world. People who don't have doubts, it is probably because they are too arrogant, from my point of view.

"If you are not optimistic or positive, it's impossible that things are going to go the proper way. That's my point of view and that's my approach."

He will hope to make a strong start to the new campaign in Australia, and will put in the work to give himself every chance of showing up in shape to win again.

"I just need to recover all these positive feelings and all this confidence and all this strong mentality that I need to be at the level that I want to be," Nadal said.

"And I don't know if I'm going to reach that level again. But what I don't have any doubt about is that I'm going to die for it."

He will round off his round-robin campaign against Casper Ruud in Turin on Thursday, facing the young Norwegian he crushed in the French Open final.

Once he returns to his Mallorca home, Nadal can look at what lies ahead.

"What can happen in Australia? I don't know. It's a month and a half away," Nadal said.

"What can I do to give myself a positive chance to have a good season next year? As always, be humble enough to accept that I have a challenge in front, that the last six months have been very difficult for me.

"I need to work more and I need to recover things that I lost because I was not able to practice the proper way, I was not able to compete the proper way.

"What I have to do now is come back, work hard, stay positive every single day, accept the challenge, accept that I am going to need to suffer a little bit more."

Rafael Nadal lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime for the first time as his poor run of results continued at the ATP Finals in Turin, where he looks set for a group-stage exit.

In the Green Group, Auger-Aliassime ran out a 6-3 6-4 winner over the 22-time grand slam champion, whose uncle Toni Nadal is on his opponent's coaching team.

Nadal came to Italy with a chance to snatch the year-end number one ranking from Carlos Alcaraz but needed to win this tournament, and defeats to Taylor Fritz and now Auger-Aliassime have almost quashed that prospect.

On Tuesday, the 36-year-old suffered a fourth successive singles defeat, which began with a US Open last-16 exit to Frances Tiafoe and was followed at the Paris Masters by a loss to Tommy Paul.

Auger-Aliassime was beaten in his opening match by Casper Ruud, but he came from 40-0 behind to break for a 5-3 lead in the opener of this contest, before serving out for the set comfortably enough. A break early in the second set put him on course to wrap up the match, with Nadal struggling to make an impact.

This was just a third meeting between Nadal and Auger-Aliassime on the ATP Tour, with Nadal winning both previous contests, including an epic five-set contest in the French Open fourth round in May.

The result this time, however, means Nadal has lost consecutive matches in the round-robin stage of the ATP Finals for the first time since 2011. With a 0-2 record, his only remaining hope of progress hinged on Ruud losing to Fritz later on Tuesday, which would offer Nadal a slim hope going into his final Green Group match against Ruud.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Auger-Aliassime - 15/2
Nadal - 1/4

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Auger-Aliassime - 32/2
​Nadal - 13/4

BREAK POINTS WON

Auger-Aliassime - 2/4
​Nadal - 0/5

Taylor Fritz stunned Rafael Nadal on his ATP Finals debut on Sunday, producing a powerful display to beat the 22-time grand slam winner 7-6 (7-3) 6-1 in the duo's group-stage opener.

The American put Nadal under pressure from the off in Turin, failing to give up a single break point as he dominated on his own serve to take the 36-year-old to a tie-break in the opening set.

Nadal allowed Fritz to seize the initiative with a double fault at the start of that tie-break, and the American grasped his opportunity by clinching the first set with a big forehand winner.

The top seed's struggles continued into the second set as Fritz, moving well and dictating proceedings from the baseline, claimed the match's first break four games in before going 5-1 up by repeating the trick in a back-and-forth sixth game.

Fritz then wrapped up the win with another dominant display of serving, clinching his second victory over Nadal and denting the Spaniard's bid to win a title that has eluded him throughout his illustrious career.

Having been beaten by Tommy Paul at the Paris Masters and Frances Tiafoe at the US Open, Nadal has now suffered three consecutive defeats, and he must bounce back when he faces Felix Auger-Aliassime on Tuesday.

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS

Nadal – 7/4
Fritz – 8/1

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS

Nadal – 18/4
Fritz – 23/2

BREAK POINTS WON

Nadal – 0/0
Fritz – 2/9

Rafael Nadal does not need extra motivation to win the ATP Finals for the first time in his legendary career, while Novak Djokovic is looking for a "perfect ending" to 2022 in Turin.

Spanish great Nadal has won 22 singles grand slam titles, a record in the men's game, but has surprisingly never been crowned champion at the season-ending event.

Nadal made a personal-best start to 2022, winning 20 straight matches and lifting the Australian Open title.

However, he has only played once since the US Open due to becoming a father for the first time and recuperating from injuries.

Still, at the age of 36, Nadal is grateful to still be getting a crack at finally ticking off the ATP Finals on his impressive list of accomplishments.

"I try my best in every single event. That's true. Doesn't matter if I won it [in the past] or not," Nadal, a two-time runner-up, said at an ATP media day prior to the tournament in Turin.

"When I enter a tennis tournament, I want to win and I'm going to try my best to achieve that goal. Here I was not able to make it, I was not good enough to make it in the past.

"So I just accept that and I'm happy to give myself another chance at the age of 36 — something, for me, that was difficult to imagine years ago.

"Of course it's going to be a challenge, but I hope I will be ready to give myself a chance. That's what I am looking for, just practising as good as possible with the right attitude and just trying to be ready for the action that's going to start on Sunday."

 

Djokovic's season has been a complicated one. Absent from the Australian and US Opens due to not being vaccinated against COVID-19, the Serbian great did triumph at Wimbledon, but there were no ranking points on offer at SW19.

He has slipped to eighth in the rankings as a result but does have four titles to his name in 2022 and Djokovic is eyeing a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals title and first since 2015.

"It would be a perfect ending," Djokovic said." The cherry on the cake, for sure, but it's a long way. It's a long week.

"You've got to play the best players in the world. You have to play more or less everyone in this tournament at least once, so I look forward to it.

"I've had experience in this tournament, in this format, many times and hopefully that can serve me in a good way."

In recent years, the notable absentee at the ATP Finals has been Roger Federer, with his last appearance in the tournament coming in 2019.

The lack of Federer at the showpiece event will be felt even more apparent this year after the Swiss maestro retired from tennis in September, though it is the absence of a player at the other end of his career that is more relevant in Turin.

World number one Carlos Alcaraz had to withdraw from the tournament after suffering an abdominal tear, which means his status at the top of the men's game is in jeopardy.

Rafael Nadal has spoken well of his 19-year-old compatriot in the past, but is not ready to pass the torch just yet, and could even topple Alcaraz from his number one spot.

The 22-time grand slam champion has finished as year-end number one five times previously, most recently in 2019. Should he accomplish the feat again this year it would put him in joint-second for most year-end finishes at the top of the ATP Rankings (since 1973) along with Pete Sampras (six).

In order to do so, Nadal will need to win the tournament, something he has never done before.

However, he comes into his 11th appearance in good form, and has won 32 per cent of his return games in 2022, the highest percentage by any player this year, and has converted 43.8 per cent of his break points in 2022, the third best amongst all players.

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas, meanwhile, is the other competitor who can knock Alcaraz off top spot, though his task to do so is a little more complicated as he needs to win every match on the way to the title in Turin. 

No player has played more matches in 2022 than Tsitsipas (80), 21 on clay, 11 on grass and 48 on hard courts; he has won 59 of them and lost 21.

Should neither man win at the Pala Alpitour, Alcaraz will breathe a sigh of relief and earn his first year-end number one finish, having taken his place after winning the US Open in September.

Nadal has been drawn into the Green Group with Casper Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Taylor Fritz, while Tsitsipas will be in the Red Group alongside Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Novak Djokovic.

Djokovic can equal Federer record

One man surprisingly unable to end the year as number one is Djokovic, despite having done so on more occasions than anyone else in history (seven).

However, the 21-time grand slam champion can still make his mark in Italy.

Djokovic has had an up-and-down year, only playing in two of the four grand slams due to his vaccination status, though he was able to win Wimbledon for the seventh time, beating Nick Kyrgios in the final.

Should the Serbian go all the way and lift what would be his sixth ATP Finals title, he will go level with Federer for most victories since the tournament began in 1970.

Among the eight participating players in this year's tournament, Djokovic has won 87 per cent of his service games in 2022, the best percentage among these players and the sixth overall.

It would be quite the ending to the year for Djokovic, who finds himself in the unusual position of sitting eighth in the world rankings, and at the age of 35, who knows how many more appearances he will make at the event?

 

Strong field promises fireworks

As is the intent of the format, the ATP Finals should be a tightly-contested few days as the best men's players in the world come together.

Ruud will be looking to add to an already impressive season, having reached two grand slam finals and winning three tour-level titles, while Fritz is aiming to carry on the fine lineage of American players to have won the tournament.

Players from the United States have won the ATP finals 16 times, with Sampras and Ivan Lendl winning five of them each. It is the most by any country and 10 more than next best Switzerland (six, all Federer) and Germany (also six, three wins for Boris Becker, one for Michael Stich and two for last year's champion, Alexander Zverev).

Auger-Aliassime has had a strong end to the year, beating Djokovic at the Laver Cup before winning three titles in as many weeks in Florence, Antwerp and Basel.

Only John Isner (895) has recorded more aces in 2022 than Auger-Aliassime, who has registered 852 in total, averaging 10.9 per match.

"All the players who participate [at the ATP Finals], I have already faced them, I have beaten them," the Canadian recently said. "So for me, there's no reason why I can't show up to this tournament with the aim of winning it."

Medvedev was world number one as recently as September but enters this tournament in fifth, though he did win the Vienna ATP 500 event last month, while his first opponent in Turin, Rublev, enters with a 2022 record of 49-18, looking for his second straight 50-win season.

Whoever comes out on top at this year's ATP Finals, the race for supremacy in 2023 promises to be as delightfully chaotic.

Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios could face off in the inaugural United Cup, while WTA world number one Iga Swiatek will represent Poland.

The United Cup is the new warm-up tournament for the ATP and WTA Tour seasons, and will take place in Australia in December and January.

While ATP world number one Carlos Alcaraz will not feature, compatriot Nadal will be competing for Spain, and they have been drawn alongside Australia and Great Britain in Group D.

Those matches will be played in Perth, with a clash between Nadal and Kyrgios, who have enjoyed an entertaining rivalry down the years, in the offing.

They were set to meet in the semi-finals at Wimbledon this year, but Nadal withdrew due to injury, handing Kyrgios a walkover into his first grand slam final, which he lost to Novak Djokovic, who will not be playing in Australia.

Serbia are not among the batch of teams taking part, but even so, there remains doubt whether Djokovic would be able to enter Australia given his stance against the COVID-19 vaccine, which eventually saw him deported from the country after a drawn-out legal battle ahead of this year's Australian Open.

Emma Raducanu has decided against playing for the British team, which also does not feature Andy Murray.

Casper Ruud, the beaten US Open finalist, will play for Norway in Group E, in Brisbane, while Alexander Zverev will be in action for Germany.

Swiatek is the biggest name from the WTA Tour to enter, with the brilliant 21-year-old lining up alongside Hubert Hurkacz for Poland in Group B.

Maria Sakkari and Stefanos Tsitsipas, along with his brother Petros, will team up for Greece in Group A.

Two more countries will be admitted to the tournament later in November.

Rafael Nadal has turned his focus to the ATP Finals after his shock exit from the Paris Masters, though found it hard to visualise success in Turin.

World number two Nadal crashed out in the second round of the ATP 1000 event on Wednesday, going down 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 to Tommy Paul.

Nadal, who was contesting his first match since his Laver Cup doubles exhibition with the now-retired Roger Federer, took the opening set and appeared on his way to a comfortable victory when he went up a break in the second.

But Paul broke straight back, going on to win the tie-break before storming home in the decider as Nadal seemed to struggle physically the longer the match dragged on.

Speaking to the media after the loss, Nadal gave credit to his opponent and said he did not deserve to win after blowing his chance.

"It's okay – all the credit to Tommy," he said. "Things happen sometimes.

"I think he played aggressively, a lot of great shots. I had my match in that second set, with a set and break [lead]. 

"I played a terrible game there. I didn't deserve the victory playing that bad in that key moment, no.

"Until that moment, it was okay, a good match for me. Knowing that this is my first match in a while – and this surface especially, you cannot make mistakes with your serve.

"We are always ready to find excuses, but in the end, it's always the same. You play well, you win; you don't, you lose. 

"For moments, putting everything in a pack, I was playing quite well. Then at the right moment, I didn't make the right things. So that's it – he played well, he's having a great year."

Turning his attention to the season finale in Italy, Nadal said he will be there if everything goes to plan.

"Yes, I hope, if nothing happens, I hope to be there," he said. "I'm excited about playing, even if it hasn't been the perfect couple of months for me, of course. 

"But yeah, nothing to lose. After a good year, going there, just trying my best. It's true that for the last five months I didn't spend enough days on the Tour.

"I don't even say competing on a tennis court – I say on the Tour. Practicing with the guys, that's what I need."

His lack of a strong build-up to the tournament has 22-time grand slam champion Nadal admittedly not liking his chances, saying it would be "difficult to imagine" this being the year he is able to win his first ATP Finals title.

"I mean, for me it's difficult to imagine now arriving in good enough shape to win a tournament like this one that I didn't win during my whole tennis career," he said.

"To play against the best players of the world, from the first day you need to be there and the rhythm, conditions, that will not happen. 

"So the only thing I can do is try to be there earlier, have some good practice with the guys and then give my best on the court – and hopefully the level of tennis will be there, and the body too.

"I can't predict much, and I honestly don't think much about what I have to do or what I don't have to do to be really there. 

"I just think about 'be better' – I need to improve a couple of things, and then I need to play sets against the best players, to feel myself again, competitive against everyone.

"That's it – I'm gonna try to make that happen – and if not, you know what, there's going to be next year, and I'm going to try to have the best season possible to start strong."

Rafael Nadal joined Daniil Medvedev in making a shock early exit from the Paris Masters on Wednesday.

While world number one Carlos Alcaraz overcame Yoshihito Nishioka 6-4 6-4 to progress to the last 16, there was no such luck for compatriot Nadal, whose chances of ending the year at the top of the ATP rankings are over after a defeat to Tommy Paul.

World number two Nadal looked well set to progress after claiming the first set 6-3 in just over 40 minutes, yet American Paul rallied to seal the biggest win of his career 3-6 7-6 (7-4) 6-1.

The 22-time grand slam champion said on Tuesday that he is no longer concerned with competing for the top spot in the world, though he will no doubt be frustrated at bowing out at the first hurdle ahead of the ATP Finals later this month.

Paul became the first player to defeat Nadal prior to the quarter-finals of the tournament when he sent a controlled backhand volley away from the forlorn 36-year-old.

Nadal was not the only big-name exit, with world number three Medvedev also slumping to defeat, going down 6-4 2-6 7-5 to Alex de Minaur.

For Australian De Minaur, it was his first win in 19 attempts against a player ranked in the top five and sets up a third-round clash with Frances Tiafoe, who beat Jack Draper.

"It's a good one to get, for sure," said De Minaur. "It's the end of the year, everyone's a bit tired, but I'm very proud of my performance. I just played very smart.

"I knew it was going to be a chess match out there, both baiting each other to be aggressive, but you also didn't want to be too aggressive at times. It was an absolute battle and I'm very happy I was able to come out on top."

It leaves the path open for Alcaraz to retain his place as the world's best player, and the 19-year-old said after his win: "First round in every tournament is never easy.

"You have to be really focused, you have to try to get a good rhythm, good feeling in the first round. I'm really happy with the performance, the level that I played, and I'm looking forward to getting better in the next round."

Ninth seed Taylor Fritz and 10th seed Hubert Hurkacz lost to Gilles Simon and Holger Rune respectively, their defeats ensuring Felix Auger-Aliassime, who overcame Mikael Ymer, and Andrey Rublev will feature in the ATP Finals.

Auger-Aliassime's victory took three hours and 30 minutes, and marked his 14th win in a row.

"Somehow I found a second wind after saving those break points at 4-1," said the Canadian.

"I played better and better, coming through the court much better, serving better. It was pretty epic. Three hours and 30 minutes on the court, quality rallies. He was making me work all the time. Definitely a win to remember."

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas was also a winner, seeing off Daniel Evans in straight sets.

Rafael Nadal is not treating the Paris Masters as a chance to fight for a place at the top of the ATP rankings.

Nadal has played only once – alongside the now-retired Roger Federer at the Laver Cup – since he was knocked out in the fourth round of the US Open by Frances Tiafoe.

The 36-year-old has won two grand slam titles in 2022, at the Australian Open and the French Open, seeing him sit one clear of Novak Djokovic when it comes to the record amount of major triumphs.

Yet it is Nadal's fellow Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, some 17 years his junior, who sat top of the world rankings ahead of the Paris Masters and the season-ending ATP Finals in Turin.

Nadal could yet end the year at the summit, but to overtake Alcaraz he would likely need a deep run at the Paris Masters – one of two ATP 1000 tournaments he is yet to win in his illustrious career – and in northern Italy.

However, Nadal, who became a father last month, says he now has a much simpler aim than becoming the best player on the planet.

"To be clear, I understand it's an interesting point because you're talking about fighting for number one, [but] I don't fight any more to be world number one," Nadal said in a press conference on Tuesday, a day ahead of his opening match against Tommy Paul in the French capital.

"I just fight to keep being competitive in every event that I play. It's something I said a long time ago, I will not fight any more to be number one.

"I did in the past. I achieved that goal a couple of times in my career and I have been very, very happy and proud about achieving that. But I am at a moment in my tennis career where I don't fight to be number one.

"I'm just excited to be here. I'm here to try my best and then accept things how they are coming. Hopefully, I will be ready, I'm going to try to be competitive. Let's see. I'm excited about it."

Having dominated the game for so long, Nadal and reigning Paris Masters champion Djokovic find themselves ranked at second and seventh by the ATP respectively.

Nadal and Djokovic are the only players in the top 10 aged over 30, with four of the other eight players aged under 25.

"My feelings are that I am proud of all the things that I was able to still be here in 2022," Nadal said, when asked what it was like to be competing against the next generation of talent.

"It's something that says that I did a lot of things well in my life, not only my tennis career. To hold the passion, to hold the love for the game and fighting spirit.

"I'm proud of that and just hope that I can enjoy the last two events of the year."

With his son not yet a month old, Nadal conceded he is missing home.

"[A] different approach to usual. It has always been difficult to leave home, to be honest," he said.

"It's quite interesting how even after two or three weeks you leave your son at home and [are] not be able to go see him. It's something quite interesting how even after only three weeks of knowing him you start missing him.

"So yeah, a new experience, all changes are difficult in his life, and you need to adapt to it."

Carlos Alcaraz views fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal as another competitor and "not my enemy", despite the pair's battle for top spot in the world rankings.

The 19-year-old continues to break records at the top table in tennis, becoming the first teenager to be crowned world number one in the Open Era.

Alcaraz, aged just 19 years and 129 days, also set a new benchmark as the youngest number-one ranked male player in the world since rankings were published in 1973.

Those feats came after winning September's US Open, where he joined Arthur Ashe (1968) and Rod Laver (1969) as the only Open Era players to win on their first or second main-draw outing at the tournament.

Now, Alcaraz has Nadal – a record 22-time major winner – chasing him for top spot, though the youngster assures there will never be bad blood between himself and his compatriot.

"I don't see it that way," Alcaraz responded to Eurosport when asked if he was embroiled in a battle with Nadal.

"It's true, Rafa is fighting for the No.1. Some players have the same goal – to be No.1, so I need to do my best. Outside the court [Rafa and I] are colleagues, at least it's the way I see it.

"Rafa is not my enemy. I say hello, I don't see that competition. With the rest of the players, it's the same. Beyond that relationship, I'll try to keep being No.1."

 

While Alcaraz remains the world's top-ranked male player, he intends to savour the moment after a surreal victory at the US Open.

"It is an incredible feeling, waking up as No.1, the US Open winner. It's a dream come true," he added.

"I am enjoying this moment so far. I keep working, my life is still the same, I'm still the same kid, same player. I just keep practising, keep improving."

As the teen aims to relish topping the ranks, his next focus turns to the Paris Masters – where he faces Yoshihito Nishioka on Wednesday – with a knee injury not as serious as first thought.

"It's a little pain, but the calendar is very demanding," he said of the injury. "We are playing and travelling with barely any breaks and it's normal that we have a few pains.

"All players have them and we learn how to deal with them. I am feeling good physically and I am ready to play here in Paris and in Turin in the [ATP] Finals."

Page 1 of 23
© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.