By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday, November 30, 2022
All signs point to Novak Djokovic being a significant force on the ATP Tour in 2023. The 35-year-old finished 2022 on a hot streak, winning 18 of his final 19 matches and claiming his sixth ATP Finals title.
Juan Carlos Ferrero, the coach of Carlos Alcaraz, says that is just fine with him.
“We need him,” said Ferrero of the 21-time major champion, in an interview with Eurosport.
Ferrero, a former World No.1, still believes that squaring off against Djokovic is critical to his development as a player – even if the 19-year-old Spaniard takes a few lumps.
“I think for Carlos to improve his tennis he needs to play against one of the best in the history,” Ferrero said. “Of course Rafa [Nadal] is there to play against him – and Novak, we need him.”
Alcaraz defeated Djokovic in the Madrid semifinals this spring. It was the pair’s only meeting and it went in favor of the Spaniard. Djokovic, who missed several months due to not being allowed to play at the Australian Open, Indian Wells or Miami, was hardly in mid-season form at the time, however.
Nevertheless, Ferrero liked how his charge rose to the challenge, accepting the stress of the moment to win in a third-set tiebreak.
“In Madrid Carlos played against Novak and he increased his level to try to win the match, so that’s what we need, to play in the Slams against him, I think it’s very important for Carlos to improve,” he said.
No ducking the toughest test in tennis for Alcaraz, the World No.1 and his coach are happy that Djokovic, the nine-time champion, will be present and accounted for in Melbourne.
“Carlos and I were talking about [the fact] that we’re happy to see Novak there because if you want to win the Australian Open you have to win against the best, and of course it’s good news,” he said.