PARIS, May 26 ― World number one Carlos Alcaraz, who will be fighting for his first French Open title, does not consider himself favourite to win, saying his main priority is to enjoy the tournament beyond defending his ranking.
Having been placed in the same half of the draw as 22-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic on Thursday, the 20-year-old Spaniard said he was keen to manage his own expectations.
“I’m going to try to do my best and that’s all I’m thinking about,” Alcaraz said yesterday at a promotional event where he played with children ahead of the tournament.
“I’m not the favourite, but of course I can say I’m one of them. I don’t have a lot of pressure, as I said before I just enjoy myself and try not to think about the pressure..
“I come here to enjoy, to show my best tennis. And of course I’ll try to do a good result, but it’s not the only thing I think about,” he added.
In the absence of 14-time and defending champion Rafael Nadal, who will miss the claycourt tournament through injury, the focus is on Alcaraz and Djokovic.
“I don’t know if it’s that up-for-grabs (the title). I don’t know who could beat Carlos (Alcaraz), there aren’t many who can beat Carlos or (Novak) Djokovic. They are not easy to beat. I do not know if (Holger) Rune or (Daniil) Medvedev are going to do well,” said coach Toni Nadal, who also talked about his nephew’s absence.
“Unfortunately, my nephew can’t come. He’s injured and has to recover to be competitive… but I hope that, in 2024, he’ll be well enough to try to come here,” he added.
Alcaraz could face some potentially challenging duels on his way to a possible semi-final against world number three Djokovic, with 2021 runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas, Lorenzo Musetti and Felix Auger-Aliassime in the top quarter of the draw.