The ‘Novak Djokovic’ Effect? Decoding Carlos Alcaraz’s Struggles With Form Post Cincinnati Masters Heart-Break

Published 10/05/2023, 8:01 AM EDT

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In the world of tennis, it’s often said that confidence is the invisible but formidable opponent on the court. Carlos Alcaraz, the rising star from Spain, has been on a rollercoaster journey since his stunning victory over Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon. While his triumph at the iconic tournament marked a career-high, his subsequent encounters have been far less jubilant.

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While Carlos Alcaraz struggled to capitalize on the final stages of the tournaments that he has played in since then, one question arises in the minds of all who have seen his meteoric growth. Has the defeat at Cincinnati against Novak Djokovic put a curse on the 20-year-old Alcaraz?

Underwhelming run of form for Carlos Alcaraz in recent tournaments

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Carlos Alcaraz’s victory at Wimbledon was a tennis fairytale. He faced the world’s top-ranked player, Novak Djokovic, in the finals, and against all odds, emerged victorious. The win not only made him a star but also marked a new era in men’s tennis. While the match lasted for around 5 hours, it was Alcaraz who showed pure resilience and won the battle.

While this win was purely sensational for Alcaraz, many started to regard him as the next big thing that the game will ever see. Also, while Carlos laid hands on his second Grand Slam, there were many who thought that the years-long dominance of Novak Djokovic had finally come to an end.

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Then came the Cincinnati Masters. As the tournament progressed, everyone started to think that the Wimbledon final could be repeated. Things proved right and once again, Djokovic and Alcaraz found themselves in the finals, but this time, the outcome was different. Djokovic claimed victory, and Alcaraz tasted defeat. This victory at the Cincinnati meant that not only has Novak cruised a comfortable lead in the head-to-head standings but has also silenced the critics that doubted him.

Following Cincinnati, Alcaraz’s journey through the US Open and China Open wasn’t even what people expected from him. At the US Open, he faced Daniil Medvedev in the semifinals. What many thought could be an easy win for the young Spanish player was proved wrong. In a challenging semi-final, it was Daniil who defeated Carlos Alcaraz. However, the Russian then went on to lose the finals against Novak Djokovic which helped the Serbian create a record of the 24 Grand Slam of his career.

Looking to lay his hands on the title, he went with full force in China. However, the critics surrounding Carlos Alcaraz winning a title in China failed after he lost in the semi-finals yet again. This time, it was his arch-rival Jannik Sinner who defeated him. Thus, with a series of losses now in the semi-finals, the question arises: Has the loss at the Cincinnati Open to Novak Djokovic degraded his confidence as a player?

Has the Cincinnati Open loss to Novak Djokovic derailed Carlos Alcaraz’s confidence?

With the 20-year-old Spaniard making it to the big stages, it is quite obvious that critics will surround him. Some argue that it was merely a setback in a young player’s career. Others believe that the loss may have sowed seeds of self-doubt, especially after the euphoria of winning Wimbledon. Currently holding the second spot in the recently released ATP Rankings, Carlos has made it clear that he wants the number 1 spot again.

However, recent semi-final losses at the US Open and China Open have suggested that, at the moment, his target looks a little bit far away from him. But, on the other hand, it is also crucial to remember that it is not possible for a tennis player to win almost every tournament that he plays in. The same has been the case with the ‘Big 3’, Serena Williams, or whoever has stepped on the courts.

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USA Today via Reuters

Tennis is a mentally demanding sport, and setbacks are part of the journey. While the defeat in Cincinnati might have momentarily shaken Alcaraz, the young lad from Spain has immense potential to stay at the top for many more years to come. He’s still at the early stages of his career and has time to develop the mental strength that is required to compete at the highest level in the sports.

Thus, Carlos Alcaraz’s Cincinnati defeat to Novak Djokovic likely had a temporary impact on his confidence, but it shouldn’t be seen as a definitive setback. In the history of the sport, there have been many examples of players who, in their careers, faced major setbacks but had the courage to bounce back and make a name for themselves.

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A young gun of only 20, Carlos Alcaraz could do the same and go down to become the next big thing that Spain has produced in tennis after the legend Rafael Nadal himself. What are your views on Carlos’ recent form? Will he bounce back in time for the 2024 season? Do let us know in the comments below!

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Written by:

Akshat Gaur

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Akshat Gaur is a Tennis Writer at EssentiallySports. He completed his Bachelor’s degree in 2021 and has been writing since then. With over two years of experience in the world of sports journalism, specifically tennis journalism, Akshat is someone who is immensely passionate about covering the ATP and the WTA Tour.
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Edited by:

Mitali Dey

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