Carlos Alcaraz targets Australian Open to hit back in epic Novak Djokovic rivalry

Carlos Alcaraz is raring to go at the Australian Open where he will seek to dethrone holder Novak Djokovic and secure a third grand slam triumph that would see him reclaim the world number one spot.

The 20-year-old Spaniard will hope to bury memories of an injury-plagued start to last year when he missed the Australian Open, which Djokovic won to climb back to the rankings summit.

The bull-like Alcaraz, who has taken the tennis world by storm since becoming the youngest men’s world number one after his US Open triumph in 2022, hit back by capturing his second grand slam title at Wimbledon following an epic five-set final victory over Djokovic.

However, after winning the 2023 US Open in September, the 36-year-old Serb beat his young rival at the ATP Finals and claimed a record-extending eighth year-end number one spot.

Their rivalry could be set for another epic showdown and once again the world number one spot is within reach for Alcaraz.

Djokovic has a 2,200-point advantage over Alcaraz, who has no points to defend in Australia after skipping the tournament in 2023 with a leg injury.

Rankings are based on points claimed at each tournament, which expire every year. To maintain the points won at an event a player must at least match their result from the previous year.

That means that Alcaraz would claim 2,000 points with the title in Australia and reclaim top spot regardless of the Serbian’s result.

He would also move above Djokovic if he reaches the quarter-finals, the semis or the final and the Serb fails to advance along with him.

While Alcaraz may not need any extra motivation, a statement win would cement his standing in the sport and leave little doubt that he is leading a changing of the guard in men’s tennis.

“Learning from (Djokovic) is amazing. It’s incredible to share the court with him,” Alcaraz said after beating Djokovic in an exhibition match in Saudi Arabia in late December.

“I grew up watching him winning all the big tournaments and you know, you always dream about this moment, playing against him face-to-face and I’m really, really happy to be able to do that.”