Carlos Alcaraz has dealt Novak Djokovic a psychological blow after claiming the World No.1 ranking ahead of the French Open. The 20-year-old tennis ace will go into the Roland Garros grand slam as the top seed and one of the favourites for the men’s title after extending his win streak on clay to 12 matches at the Italian Open.
In reality, Alcaraz only needed to step onto court against Albert Ramos-Vinolas at the Rome Masters event to take the No.1 ranking from Djokovic. Not content with his new status as the best male player in the world, the 20-year-old proceeded to put on a masterclass against Ramos-Vinolas, by cruising to a 6-4 6-1 triumph in the battle of the Spaniards.
Coming off the back of titles in Barcelona and Madrid, Alcaraz will pass Djokovic for the top spot when the rankings are next published on May 22. Crucially, he will also be guaranteed the top ranking at the French Open – which starts on May 28 – regardless of whether Djokovic defends his title in Rome.
Alcaraz double-faulted to hand Ramos-Vinolas a break of his serve in the opening game of the match but quickly recovered and used his well-disguised drop shot to set up the key break at the end of the first set. The Spanish young gun produced nearly three times as many winners as Ramos-Vinolas (28-11), despite slow conditions on a rainy day that saw play suspended in the Italian capital.
The victory saw Alcaraz improve his record to 20-1 on clay this year. Speaking after the match about securing the top seed at the French Open by the age of 20, a clearly delighted Alcaraz admitted it was a “crazy” feeling.
Well, it’s great to be No. 1 seed in Roland Garros, in a Grand Slam is something crazy,” Alcaraz said during his on-court interview. “I couldn’t believe it years ago, but yes, I am very happy.
“It doesn’t change too much to be No. 1 or No. 2 seed, I just focus on the tournament, on my game, on every match and that’s something that I try not to think about. But of course, it’s something great, to be No. 1.”