Already established in Turin and with a couple of training sessions behind him, Carlos Alcaraz met his rivals this Thursday in the group stage of the ATP Finals. The Murcian will face Daniil Medvedev, Andrey Rublev and Alexander Zverev in his first three matches of the tournament, while the other group includes Novak Djokovic, Jannik Sinner and Stefanos Tsitsipas. The status of Alcaraz as second seed and that of Djokovic, as first, prevented them from seeing each other in this round and, if each of them passed as first or second in the group, they could only face each other in the final.
The tournament, which begins on Sunday, will be Alcaraz’s first experience in a Masters Cup. He also qualified last season, after winning the US Open, his first Grand Slam, but an abdominal injury in Paris-Bercy kept him from the final tournament of the year and the Davis Cup Finals. This year, with Spain out of the Davis Cup knockout phase, Alcaraz’s season will end in Turin.
The question is whether he will do so crowned as master or along the lines of recent months, in which the Spaniard has felt the weight of the season and has had several disappointing tournaments. The last, and the worst of all, in Paris-Bercy, where he fell in his debut against Roman Safiullin. Before, he had chained the round of 16 in Shanghai and the semifinals in Beijing, which has caused an ‘indoor’ tour of little success for Alcaraz, who has not won a title since Wimbledon and has practically said goodbye to the options of finishing the year as number one.
Despite his desire to finish 2023 on a high, as he did last year, the sweep of titles that Djokovic has achieved has made it impossible. The Serbian won the US Open, in Cincinnati and in Paris-Bercy and has an advantage of 1,495 points over Alcaraz. That is to say, for the Spaniard to take the number one spot, he would need to win the tournament undefeated, something that is not crazy, but with the addition that Djokovic would have to go home with 0-3 in the box. This only happened to the Serbian in his debut in the tournament in 2007, when he fell to David Ferrer, Richard Gasquet and Rafael Nadal. Djokovic also opts to remain alone with another record, since he aspires to his seventh win in the Masters Cup, which would break the tie with Roger Federer.
If he has overcome the back problems he suffered in Paris and that did not prevent him from winning his 40th Masters there, he will once again be a favorite starting Sunday at the Palasport Olimpico in Turin.
As for Alcaraz’s group itself, Alcaraz has an even head-to-head with Medvedev (2-2), with whom he lost in the US Open semifinals, and with Zverev (3-3), whom he has nevertheless defeated in the two times they have faced each other this year. He has never played against Rublev, apart from an exhibition in Abu Dhabi last year that ended with victory for the Russian.