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Tunisia’s Aziz Dougaz: ‘My Path Was Like Nobody Else’s’

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2023

Tunisia’s Aziz Dougaz: ‘My Path Was Like Nobody Else’s’

The lefty hit a career-high No. 214 in June

Overcoming obstacles and naysayers has been a constant theme for Aziz Dougaz, the Tunisian who is one of just two players from Africa in the Top 250 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.

The 26-year-old is enjoying a career-best season on the ATP Challenger Tour, where he’s reached seven quarter-finals in 2023 and is hoping for another deep run this week in Calgary, Canada. To understand how Dougaz has reached this point takes revisiting his past.

“My path was like no one else’s path that’s playing the same tournaments I’m playing,” Dougaz told at the Calgary National Bank Challenger. “I think I created my own path in tennis and I pushed through the obstacles I faced and I have a lot more obstacles to face to reach my goals.

“I come from a city in Tunisia that nobody ever thought I could already be where I am now because of the obstacles. No money, no coaches, no tournaments. Tennis was just for fun and that’s it. Nobody thought that we could make it. I had nobody to tell me, ‘This is the way, this is what we need to do.’ I was always going through the unknown and adapting to what comes to me. I think that’s a strength I have and I have to use it.”

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Dougaz finds extra motivation in inspiring young Tunisian kids that they too can reach the pro level, citing Malek Jaziri and Ons Jabeur as other key players in opening doors for the next generation. Jaziri hit a career-high No. 42 in 2019 and spent five years in the Top 100 while Jabeur, a three-time major finalist, is currently No. 6 in the WTA Rankings.

“The idea of having professional players in Tunisia when I was kid didn’t really exist,” Dougaz said. “But I think now it’s growing a lot. Malek had an amazing career and Ons now too, her impact is massive. I think a lot of people believe in tennis much more now that they can make it.”

Dougaz witnessed professional tennis first hand in 2005 when he was a ballkid at the Tunis Challenger, where Gael Monfils downed Fabrice Santoro in an all-French final. “I remember being at that match and it just marked me. It was amazing to see such amazing players so close,” he said.

The lefty became one of the Top 50 juniors in the world and spent three-and-a-half years at Florida State University, where he earned ITA All-American honours. Despite critics advising Dougaz to pursue a career outside of pro sports, his mind was set on achieving a dream.

“As a kid I always believed tennis was going to be my job even though nobody around me except my parents believed that,” Dougaz said. “Everyone was like, ‘Yeah, tennis is great. You can go to college and have talent but professional in Tunisia is impossible. We don’t have the money, we don’t have the infrastructure, we don’t have much to fight against the other countries.’

“Most people around me were like, ‘What are you doing? Just focus on school, you’re wasting your time.’ I’m really grateful my parents allowed me to keep dreaming and didn’t listen to all the people who said there’s no future in tennis.”

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A memorable moment for Dougaz came this year at the US Open, where he was competing in qualifying with his parents Ahmed and Mona in attendance.

“That was amazing. I think they were super proud of me and for them it was a reward, a proud feeling of, ‘Our son is playing a big tournament like this and he’s winning a match and he’s around the best athletes there are in tennis,’” Dougaz said. “They are pushing me to achieve more because they definitely know it’s where I want to go and that my goal is still far away from where I am right now.”

Dougaz, who is World No. 242 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, is the highest-ranked Tunisian and just one of five players from the African country in the Top 1,000. Though his path to this point has been far from normal, Dougaz takes pride in his work.

“[I will] keep creating my own path, we all have different ways to get to a certain goal,” Dougaz said. “I’m going to believe in that and not think, ‘I didn’t have as many opportunities as the players I’m facing.’ I think it’s a strength that I’ve faced more challenges and my path is completely different than the normal guy in the Top 250.”

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Draper Downs Musetti In Sofia

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2023

Draper Downs Musetti In Sofia

Mannarino earns 200th hard-court win

Jack Draper continued his impressive recent form on Wednesday at the Sofia Open, where he defeated top seed Lorenzo Musetti 7-5, 6-2 to reach his seventh tour-level quarter-final.

The Briton won his fifth ATP Challenger Tour title in Italy last week and has quickly found his level in Sofia, also beating Maximilian Marterer at the ATP 250 event. In a high-quality performance against Musetti, Draper won 89 per cent (31/35) of his first-serve points to advance one hour and 48 minutes.

“Lorenzo is an amazing player, one of the top young players in the world, so I knew it would be a real challenger,” Draper said. “I started off a little slow but after that I found momentum and am proud of the way I played. I am feeling really confident, I am playing great tennis.”

The 21-year-old, who reached the fourth round at the US Open in September, is chasing his maiden tour-level title. He will next play Cem Ilkel after the World No. 259 beat Max Purcell 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.

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In other action, second seed Adrian Mannarino earned his 200th tour-level hard-court win and earned 40 victories for the first time in a season. The Frenchman defeated Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 6-4 to reach the quarter-finals after one hour and 44 minutes. The World No. 25 is the first Frenchman to earn 40 wins on more in a season since Gael Monfils (44) in 2016.

Mannarino will next play Sebastian Ofner after the Austrian defeated Australian Christopher O’Connell 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-2.

Fabian Marozsan, who defeated Carlos Alcaraz in Rome in May, overcame Roberto Bautista Agut 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(4) to reach his second tour-level quarter-final. The Hungarian also advanced to the last eight in Shanghai in October.

Marozsan will next face third seed Jan-Lennard Struff after the German defeated British qualifier Billy Harris 7-6(5), 6-4. Struff is seeking his first tour-level title this week, having held championship point in Stuttgart in June.

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Alcaraz Arrives In Turin Ahead Of Nitto ATP Finals Debut

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2023

Alcaraz Arrives In Turin Ahead Of Nitto ATP Finals Debut

Spaniard practises at Pala Alpitour for the first time Wednesday

Carlos Alcaraz is ready to make his Nitto ATP Finals debut.

The 20-year-old star arrived at the Pala Alpitour in Turin on Wednesday, where he received a tour of the season finale’s home and enjoyed his first practice session on centre court with junior World No. 1 Joao Fonseca.

<a href=Carlos Alcaraz” />
Photo: Andrew Eichenholz/ATP Tour
One year ago, Alcaraz made a brief visit to the arena to receive his ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone honour. He had qualified for the year-end championships, but did not compete due to injury.

Now Alcaraz is ready to play in the prestigious eight-man event for the first time. Tied for the ATP Tour lead with six titles this year according to Infosys ATP Stats, the Spaniard will try to add a seventh to his 2023 collection between 12 and 19 November.

The other seven competitors in the singles field are Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev, Jannik Sinner, Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev and Holger Rune. Twenty-year-olds Alcaraz and Rune are the first 20-and-under pair to compete in the same Nitto ATP Finals since 2000, when 19-year-old Lleyton Hewitt and 20-year-old Marat Safin made their debuts.

The draw will take place Thursday at 3 p.m. local time. Alcaraz and top-seeded Djokovic are guaranteed to be in separate groups.

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Fognini Saves 2 MPs, Advances In Metz

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2023

Fognini Saves 2 MPs, Advances In Metz

Herbert reaches first tour-level singles QF since 2021

Fabio Fognini reached his first tour-level quarter-final of the season in dramatic style on Wednesday when he saved two match points to claw past Alexander Bublik 4-6, 7-6(7), 7-6(5) at the Moselle Open.

The Italian saved match points at 5/6 and 6/7 in the second-set tie-break with great touch around the net. Fognini then recovered from squandering a break advantage in the third set before eventually sealing victory on his first match point to advance after two hours and 53 minutes.

Fognini will meet #NextGenATP Jordan star Abdullah Shelbayh or defending champion Lorenzo Sonego in the last eight.

In other action, French wild card Pierre-Hugues Herbert reached his first tour-level quarter-final since Marseille in 2021 when he downed Dutch lucky loser Gijs Brouwer 7-5, 6-4.

#NextGenATP Frenchman Luca Van Assche also advanced after Stan Wawrinka was forced to retire at the end of the second set with the score 3-6, 7-6(6). The 19-year-old Van Assche, who will compete at the Next Gen ATP Finals later this month, saved two match points in the second set to reach his second tour-level quarter-final of the season. He will next face Herbert. Alexander Shevchenko defeated Mate Valkusz 7-5, 2-6, 6-2.

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Why Zizou Bergs Hit Only Slice Backhands For Three Months

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2023

Why Zizou Bergs Hit Only Slice Backhands For Three Months

Belgian is competing this week at the Calgary Challenger

The week after a career milestone, injury suddenly struck Zizou Bergs.

The 24-year-old reached his maiden tour-level quarter-final at the ATP 250 event in Gstaad in July and the next week Bergs was playing a doubles match at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Zug, Switzerland when he tore a ligament in his left wrist.

“I did a first serve and then on the third ball, I hit a backhand and it got torn. That’s something that scares you. A normal backhand and stuff like that can happen,” Bergs told at the Calgary National Bank Challenger. “From that moment, it was my last backhand and the day after in singles I was doing only slice.”

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Bergs then went home to Belgium to visit a specialist who straightaway knew the problem. “The ligament was broken, so the tendon clicks out and that was the issue,” Bergs said.

Surgery would have meant Bergs would be out for at least six months, so the World No. 180 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings took an alternate route. He stepped away from competition for a month to focus on rehab. Bergs returned for US Open qualifying and until last month at the ATP 250 event in Antwerp, he was hitting only slice backhands.

“[Corentin] Moutet inspired me to do it because I knew he had the same issue and he was doing it. Or else I had to be out for three, four months and I know how hard it is to come back to competition after being out,” Bergs said.

“I was a little worried I’d lose a lot of momentum from that and I also thought it would be a fun challenge to go out there playing slice and competing against the best players in the world. In the end I can say I actually enjoyed it. Having these months of only slicing, I’m well convinced it’s going to help me.”

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Just two months before suffering the wrist injury, Bergs was lifting his fifth ATP Challenger Tour trophy in Tallahassee, Florida. Now back at 100 per cent health, Bergs is hoping to regain his best form in the final four weeks of the season.

“I want to get the full reward from the last months, having this game with the slice, feeling like I’ve improved a lot on the forehand, serve and volleys,” Bergs said. “I’d like to see everything come to place, which isn’t going to happen on the first match but I really hope that I’m fighting the hell out of myself because I’m really pumped to get it going again at full capacity.

“Then [I hope] just to develop everything together, being an aggressive player and having this second backhand that I didn’t have before. Then hopefully the results will follow because I’m really dedicated to getting in the Top 100. I really believe I have the level to be there and stay there but I want to get there.”

Even in the difficulty of dealing with injury, Bergs found the positive side, citing drastic improvement on his backhand slice.

“The difference between the beginning and the end is remarkable!” he said, while cracking a laugh.

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Dallas, Doha & Munich Upgraded To ATP 500 Tournaments From 2025

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2023

Dallas, Doha & Munich Upgraded To ATP 500 Tournaments From 2025

Part of an unprecedented set of reforms to strengthen the tennis calendar

ATP Tour events in Dallas, Doha and Munich will be upgraded to ATP 500 status from 2025, part of an unprecedented set of reforms to strengthen the tennis calendar.

The three event upgrades are set to deliver benefits for fans and players alike, with more action and playing opportunities at bigger events. It marks the ATP’s latest move to enhance the sport’s calendar and premium product, a core objective of the OneVision strategy.

The Dallas Open’s upgrade bid, by GF Sports & Entertainment, was headlined by a relocation to a soon-to-be announced new venue. The city has a long track record of hosting major sporting events including All-Star Games and Super Bowls, and is set to be a host city of the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

The Qatar ExxonMobil Open (Doha) is a five-time ATP 250 Tournament of the Year winner, as voted by players, known for its world-class standards and attracting one of the strongest player fields in the category.

The BMW Open (Munich) is set to undergo a full-scale renovation of its facility as part of its upgrade plans. The Munich application was a joint bid between Iphitos (owner of the Munich ATP 250 membership) and Champ AG (owner of Lyon ATP 250 membership).

ATP 500 Tournaments

Each of the three tournaments will offer approximately $2.8 million in prize money from 2025 and contribute to a growing ATP 500 Bonus Pool. In total, the three upgrades will deliver approximately $51.7 million in additional player compensation over a five-year period at the ATP 500 category.

As part of the process, ATP 250 tournaments in Atlanta, Lyon and Newport will be retired from 2025.

Andrea Gaudenzi, ATP Chairman, said: “OneVision is all about raising the bar for tennis, and unlocking new investment in the game. We’re thrilled to have our Dallas, Doha and Munich events step up to ATP 500 status – delivering improved standards for players and most importantly an enhanced product for our fans.”

The upgrades will expand the ATP 500 category from 13 to 16 tournaments across the season. The cities of Dallas, Doha and Munich join an impressive list of global destinations that already feature across the 500 category, including Acapulco, Barcelona, Basel, Beijing, Dubai, Halle, Hamburg, London, Rio de Janeiro, Rotterdam, Tokyo, Vienna, and Washington D.C. The changes also coincide with enhancements to the ATP Masters 1000 category, with seven of the nine tournaments to be held as marquee 12-day events from 2025.

The upgrades follow a competitive bid process run in collaboration with Deloitte’s Sports Business Group. The full 2025 ATP Tour calendar will be announced in the coming months.

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Musetti: 'It's Not Finished Until You Shake Hands'

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2023

Musetti: ‘It’s Not Finished Until You Shake Hands’

Italian gets quizzed by kids in Sofia

Lorenzo Musetti is known for his brand of entertaining and flashy shot-making every time he steps onto the tennis court. The 21-year-old Italian is the top seed at this year’s edition of the Sofia Open. As Musetti has risen up the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, he has often received more media attention and spotlight as one of the best young prospects of his generation.

Compared to his previous experiences of pre-tournament press conferences, this one in Sofia had a different twist to it. Musetti took the time to engage with fun questions asked by young kids on Tuesday.

One of the kids asked him how he maintains his focus in the middle of losing a game. Musetti was honest in his assessment of himself.

“Not every game, unfortunately, I maintain the best focus. I am not the best on Tour with that.” He later added, “I am working very hard to practice that, which is really important especially from a young age like yours.”

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He went on to offer his wisdom and elaborated by stating a quote that rings true based on his experiences in matches, “It’s not finished until you shake hands.”

When asked which player inspired him as a tennis player, he cited the Swiss Maestro Roger Federer.

“I had the chance to meet him and to play with him in practice,” Musetti said. “For me it was something really important and was sort of reaching a goal and dream.”

He directed his attention to all the kids in the room and added, “I hope you guys can reach your dreams in the future.”

Another question asked to Lorenzo was about his favourite tournament to compete in. Amused by the question, he replied, “Besides Sofia (laughter), I will probably say Rome and Monte-Carlo in terms of the crowd.”

He described the Italian crowd in Rome as “passionate and able to transport you to a different level of emotion in terms of the energy they give you”.

He added, “If I have to choose one Grand Slam, I will probably choose Wimbledon. There is no tournament in terms of elegance and history that’s better than Wimbledon.”

The World No. 27 addressed all the kids in the room and remarked “hopefully one day, one of you guys can play there. It is probably the temple of tennis.”

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Fils, Stricker, Van Assche & Cobolli Qualify For Next Gen ATP Finals

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2023

Fils, Stricker, Van Assche & Cobolli Qualify For Next Gen ATP Finals

Shelbayh receives wild card for 21-and-under event

Arthur Fils, Dominic Stricker, Luca Van Assche and Flavio Cobolli have qualified for the Next Gen ATP Finals, while Abdullah Shelbayh has received a wild card for the innovative 21-and-under event, to be held in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, from 28-November-2 December.

The 19-year-old Frenchman Fils has broken new ground on the ATP Tour this season after beginning the year at No. 251 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. The World No. 36 captured his first tour-level title in Lyon in May and reached the title match in Antwerp last month. Fils also enjoyed runs to the semi-finals in Montpellier, Marseille and Hamburg and is now set to make his debut in Jeddah.

Fils’ countryman Van Assche will also line up at the Next Gen ATP Finals after qualifying for the first time. The 19-year-old has won two ATP Challenger Tour titles this year, with his best result on the ATP Tour a quarter-final showing at the ATP 500 in Hamburg. Van Assche also won a set against Novak Djokovic in Banja Luka.

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Swiss lefty Stricker will make his second appearance at the 21-and-under event after reaching the semi-finals last year. The 21-year-old has continued his development this season, highlighted by his run to the fourth round at the US Open. Stricker cracked the Top 100 for the first time after his performance in New York.

Cobolli’s standout end to the year has helped him seal his spot in Jeddah. The 21-year-old Italian won an ATP Challenger Tour title in Lisbon in August and also made finals at that level in Romania and Italy in recent weeks. The World No. 100 advanced to the quarter-finals in Munich in April.

Shelbayh will be the first Jordanian player to compete at the event after receiving a wild card. The 19-year-old has earned tour-level wins in Banja Luka and Metz this season and became the first player from Jordan to win an ATP Challenger Tour title when he triumphed in Charleston in October.

Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune are competing at the Nitto ATP Finals this month and are therefore exempt, while Ben Shelton and Lorenzo Musetti have withdrawn due to medical and personal reasons, respectively.

The sixth edition of the Next Gen ATP Finals will be held at the King Abdullah Sports City from 28 November-2 December. Tickets to see the sport’s upcoming stars are available to buy now.

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Rublev Returns To Turin: Always Humble, Always Fighting

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2023

Rublev Returns To Turin: Always Humble, Always Fighting

26-year-old reached first Turin semi-final last season

Most elite athletes thrive behind supreme confidence, their self-belief — justified or not — willing them to achieve the impossible.

Andrey Rublev is built different. For any fans who have seen the unique 26-year-old’s affable off-court demeanor, that will come as no surprise. But Rublev is very much his own man inside the lines as well.

This season, when he won his first ATP Masters 1000 title in Monte-Carlo, he battled back from 1-4, 0/30 in the third set to defeat Holger Rune in the final. What was going through his head as the Dane was pulling away?

“That it was over,” Rublev told the ATP Tour’s cameras earlier this season. “It was over, but at least try to play, not to give up. You never know, maybe somehow there will be one chance to come back and maybe somehow you will be lucky and you will make it.”

In the end, Rublev found a way through — though luck had little to do with it. After two previous defeats in ATP Masters 1000 finals, he was brought to tears upon claiming the elusive crown on the Monaco clay.

The trophy carried added significance after recent changes to Rublev’s coaching team. While Fernando Vicente, Rublev’s primary coach since 2016, remained in his role, there was a major shakeup beyond that before the start of the season.

“In the beginning of the year, I was feeling that I was doing good things in the practices. But I was not wining something big, so you still have weird feelings,” Rublev said of the new setup, speaking in a recent interview with

“And then Monte-Carlo just gave me the confidence that the work that I was doing was the right way. Then some results later and Shanghai [reaching the final] proved that the team that I have, the practices that I’m doing, this is the way I was looking for and I have to do it with even more confidence.”

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Rublev has proven many times he can beat the world’s best. He has 23 wins against the Top 10, including a victory against current World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. In early November at the Rolex Paris Masters, he nearly earned a second win against the Serbian, but fell just short in a semi-final match of the highest quality

“Rublev was suffocating me like a snake suffocates a frog for most of the match,” Djokovic said after a dramatic 5-7, 7-6(3), 7-5 victory. “He was playing an extremely high level that he possesses, but today he was off the charts, honestly. I don’t think I’ve ever faced Rublev this good.”

Prior to that meeting, when asked what he would need to do to beat the Serbian at the Nitto ATP Finals, Rublev maintained his humble attitude.

“I need to play my best match and he needs to play his worst match,” he said, later repeating the same answer when asked about his chances against Carlos Alcaraz.

There is no doubt Rublev will need to be firing on all cylinders at his fourth Nitto ATP Finals appearance, where he will be one champion among eight of the ATP Tour’s best. But by keeping his expectations low, he may be setting the stage for his biggest title yet.

“It kind of takes out the pressure,” Rublev said. “Of course, if I play [Djokovic or Alcaraz], I will do my best to try to compete against them and to have a chance to try to win it. But it’s super tough, and they’re better than me and they show it already for many years. So we’ll see. For this I need to really, really to play my best tennis.”

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That’s exactly what Rublev did last season in Turin, when he made the semi-finals by coming from a set down to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in a winner-takes-all group finale. Like in the Monte-Carlo final, Rublev was overwhelmed by a strong start from his opponent and harboured little hope of a comeback. But that did not stop him from fighting, and that fight yielded another one of the biggest wins in his career.

“It was a great moment to be in the semi-finals at one of the best tournaments of tennis,” he reflected, nearly one year later. “To be part of it was special. I remember when I won, the emotions were crazy.”

But rather than let that memory inflate his ego, Rublev was quick to point out the rare air in which he found himself after the win.

“It’s not going to happen often,” he said, looking ahead to the possibility of another deep run in Turin. “Of course I will do everything to be able to feel this emotion again. But we’ll see.

“There is all the best players. Everyone wants to win and everyone is playing unreal.”

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Can Alcaraz Meet The Moment In Turin Debut?

  • Posted: Nov 08, 2023

Can Alcaraz Meet The Moment In Turin Debut?

Spaniard is a six-time tour-level champion in 2023

“I think my tennis didn’t improve so much since last year. What I improved a lot is to [handle] the pressure, just to play relaxed. That’s the most important thing for me.”

Carlos Alcaraz’s words after becoming champion for the first time at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells in March reflected a 19-year-old at ease with his relatively newfound status as one of the world’s top players.

The Spaniard’s stunning breakout 2022 season, during which he lifted five trophies en route to becoming the youngest No. 1 in Pepperstone ATP Rankings history, could hardly have been a tougher act to follow. Yet Alcaraz has done just that this year, notching six tour-level crowns and constantly jostling with Novak Djokovic in the race for the coveted ATP Year-End No. 1 presented by Pepperstone honour.

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Although the Serbian enters the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin as heavy favourite to finish 2023 as World No. 1, Alcaraz can look back on another remarkable year in his fledgling ATP Tour career. He wasted little time finding his rhythm on the South American clay after a hamstring injury delayed the start of his season to mid-February, charging to ATP 250 success in Buenos Aires before reaching the final as defending champion in Rio de Janeiro.

His title run in Indian Wells, followed by successful title defences at home in Barcelona and Madrid, ensured Alcaraz had won four of his first six tournaments of the year. His Madrid crown made him the sixth-youngest player in the Open Era to become a 10-time tour-level champion and improved his record in championship matches to 10-3.

“To want to play the tough moments and staying relaxed is the most important part for me,” Alcaraz said after sweeping past Stefanos Tsitsipas to claim the crown in Barcelona. “To forget the mistakes, everything and be myself on court. Not to think about all the people watching, but just me, the court, the racquet and the final.”

That ability to bring his best to the biggest moments has been evident throughout Alcaraz’s rise. Perhaps the one unknown surrounding the Spaniard’s on-court prowess prior to this year was whether he could successfully adapt his game to grass, a surface on which he entered 2023 having played just two tour-level events.

As ever, Alcaraz proved himself a fast learner. On the lawns of The Queen’s Club, he dropped just one set all week to claim the title on event debut and raise the intriguing prospect of providing a bona fide challenge to Novak Djokovic’s four-year reign as Wimbledon champion.

“It means a lot to me. Being able to win this amazing tournament in my first time that I played here for me is fantastic,” said Alcaraz after winning at the London ATP 500 to secure his return to World No. 1 ahead of WImbledon. “To know that I’m [capable of] a good level on grass, obviously [to be] champion of every tournament feels special.”

Even considering that significant grass-court breakthrough, few may have believed what was to come next. The 20-year-old dropped just two sets en route to the final at Wimbledon to set the much-anticipated final showdown with Djokovic, by then on a 34-match winning streak at SW19.

Then, an all-time classic championship match. Four hours, 42 minutes and five sets of topsy-turvy grass-court action that ended with Djokovic netting a forehand and Alcaraz falling backwards onto Centre Court in ecstasy. With his 1-6, 7-6(6), 6-1, 3-6, 6-4 victory, Alcaraz simultaneously denied Djokovic a return to No. 1 and cemented his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals.

“Making history that I did today, it’s the happiest moment of my life,” said Alcaraz. “I think it’s not going to change for a long time. Beating Novak, winning the Wimbledon championship is something that I dreamt about since I started playing tennis. That’s why this is the biggest moment of my life.”

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Without a title since his thrilling win at the All England Club in July, Alcaraz will be aiming to finish his year with a flourish on debut In Turin, where he did not compete at the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals due to an abdominal injury. His lack of experience playing at the Pala Alpitour is unlikely to bother the 20-year-old, however, who has won three of his 12 tour-level crowns on event debut, including this year in Buenos Aires and at The Queen’s Club.

Entering the season finale as World No. 2 and with a 63-10 season record, Alcaraz will be considered one of the frontrunners for the trophy in Italy. He only has to look at the status of his Lexus ATP Head2Head series with some of his closest rivals to know that his campaign could hinge on the finest of margins — Alcaraz is tied 2-2 with both World No. 1 Djokovic and No. 3 Daniil Medvedev, and trails No. 4 Jannik Sinner 3-4 — but those are the sort of challenges the Spaniard relishes.

“I like those battles. I like to know that I can lose, and I can recover it at the same time,” said Alcaraz in August in Cincinnati, when asked specifically about his rivalry with Djokovic. “Of course, you have to enjoy when the battle is against one of the legends from our sport. For me, it’s something crazy, and I’m trying to enjoy [it].”

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