The tennis world appears to be united in their hope that the 2023 US Open final will be contested by Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz, but that story is not being welcomed by some of the other players in the draw.
Alexander Zverev came within a few points of winning the US Open in 2021 and he has suggested the clamour for the top two players in the men’s draw to meet in the final in New York is disrespectful to the rest of the field.
Speaking after his impressive win against Daniel Altmaier, the German suggested this year’s US Open is much more the Novak and Carlos show.
“It is very natural for the media to look for a story and the story right now is Alcaraz and Novak,” he stated.
“Last year, it was Rafa (Nadal) against everyone. It is natural for the media to find rivalries, but there are other players in the draw and other players those two have lost against.
“It’s disrespectful to talk about the final when your next opponent is still there. We are all here and we are all trying to win.”
Former Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli is among those predicting a Novak vs Carlos final will become a reality at the end of the US Open, as she believes the pair may be unstoppable.
“They are the best two players in the world and we are hoping for that magic final,” Bartoli told Sky Sports.
“We know that Carlos can be more challenged at the start and he can still win the tournament.
“We are seeing these two great champions go through the tournament and getting closer to the match everyone in tennis wants to see.
“Novak has been playing so well. He has been stamping on his opponent, but we know Carlos can challenge him.”
Zverev’s comments about the lack of respect being shown to the rest of the US Open men’s draw as the focus falls on the top two seeds are likely to fall on deaf ears as Djokovic vs Alcaraz is the rivalry that is captivating audiences around the world.
The ATP Tour promoted the ‘Next Gen’ stars who would eventually take over from Djokovic, Nadal and Roger Federer when their era of dominance came to an end.
Yet Alcaraz has leapt ahead of a generation of players that was led by Zverev by winning two Grand Slam titles by the age of 20.
Now Zverev has insisted the batch of players he came through the ranks alongside have not failed, as he put their lack of title success down to familiar foes.
“A lot of players haven’t won a Slam yet,” argued Zverev.
“(Stefanos) Tsitsipas hasn’t won a Slam, I haven’t won a Slam, but that comes down to Novak, Roger and Rafa.
“Lots of players have not won a Slam. It’s not easy to win these things, but I feel like we are playing a little bit better in recent years.”
Zverev is set to take on another player who was tipped to win a Grand Slam title as he emerged through the ranks, as he is preparing for a tough battle with Grigor Dimitrov in round three after the Bulgarian beat Andy Murray comfortably on Thursday.
“If he beats Murray in straight sets, then I think he is playing well,” he added.
“We played last week in Cincinnati (Zverev won in straight sets), but this is a different match. Let’s see how it goes.”
You would get good odds on anyone other than Djokovic and Alcaraz winning this year’s US Open, with Zverev clearly eager to put himself if the mix at the back end of week two.
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