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Alcaraz relishes ‘beautiful battle’ for top spot at China Open

BEIJING (AFP) – World number two Carlos Alcaraz said yesterday his “beautiful battle” with Novak Djokovic at the top of men’s tennis was driving him on as he prepared for the China Open in Beijing.

Alcaraz beat top-rated Djokovic in a memorable Wimbledon final in July and could close the gap on the Serb at the top of the rankings with a strong performance in the Chinese capital.

Asked by AFP at a media briefing yesterday if his tussle with Djokovic was giving him extra impetus, Alcaraz said, “Yes, of course.”

“We have a really beautiful battle for the number one spot after the great performance Djokovic had in the American season,” the Spaniard said.

“For me, the number one spot is one of the main goals,” he said.

Alcaraz is the top seed for the China Open and will likely kick off his campaign with a match against a qualifier tomorrow.

Spain’s Carlos Alcaraz. PHOTO: AFP

Djokovic, who won the US Open this month, is a notable absence from a tournament that has still lured a host of big names.

They include Daniil Medvedev – runner-up in the United States (US) – who faces American powerhouse Tommy Paul in a tough first-round draw.

Medvedev, ranked third in the world, said at a briefing yesterday a “competitive” field was pushing him to finish the season strongly.

“Sometimes the end of the season can be tricky because all the Grand Slams are finished, so you need to find this motivation,” the Russian said.

“The motivation is… to continue proving to yourself that you can win these big tournaments, big titles, against big opponents,” he said.

World number four Holger Rune will also take on Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada in the first round.

Other leading participants include Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev and Jannik Sinner.

The China Open is being held for the first time since 2019 and follows men’s and women’s tournaments in the cities of Guangzhou, Zhuhai and Chengdu.