Madrid title defence made easier for Carlos Alcaraz without Nadal and Djokovic

Carlos Alcaraz, the top seed and world number two, believes that the injury absences of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic can make it easier for him to defend his Madrid Open title, but he does not consider himself the favourite to win. Nadal and Djokovic the joint record 22-time Grand Slam winners pulled out of the competition in the Spanish capital, which is a setback for their preparations ahead of the French Open end of this month.

Alcaraz is aiming to retain the Madrid Open title after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets and retaining the Barcelona Open title on Sunday.

“When the best players aren’t there, we say that it’s a little easier, but as I have always said, all the players are very good,” said Alcaraz at a press conference. “They have a very high level, each player thinks they can win the title, so we aren’t (more) confident because of the big pull-outs there have been. It’s a pity not to enjoy them live, but in the end we don’t feel like favourites or anything, we’re going match by match.”

The Spaniard claimed that if he doesn’t lift the trophy again, he would not consider it a failure. “When we go to each tournament, we think we can win it, and we’ll try to win it, but if we don’t, it won’t be a failure,” said Alcaraz adding that for him, leaving the tournament thinking he has failed will be about the level of attitude and performance he has shown, which is the important thing.

Carlos Alcaraz, the 2022 US Open champion, aged 19, could regain the world number one ranking ahead of the French Open if he wins either in Madrid or Rome, and at least plays one match in the other tournament — or reaches both finals. However, he considers it as an objective but insignificant in terms of Paris.

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