10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Alcaraz Aims in One Direction

Carlos Alcaraz in action during a men’s singles match at the 2023 US Open, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023 in Flushing, NY. Photo credit: Garrett Ellwood/USTA

NEW YORK—Reigning US Open champion Carlos Alcaraz sported sleeveless Nike top in his Arthur Ashe Stadium return.

The top seed continues to be a disarming major player.

Alcaraz held a 6-2, 3-2 lead when German Dominik Koepfer was forced to retire with a left ankle injury.

Wimbledon winner Alcaraz launched his quest to become the first man to successfully defend the US Open since Roger Federer ruled Flushing Meadows for five straight years from 2004-2008.

It’s the longest drought without a man defending a Grand Slam at any major in the Open Era.

Alcaraz, who will lose the world No. 1 ranking to Novak Djokovic after the Open ends, shared his one primary aim for the season: Regain world No. 1 as soon as possible.

“Well, right now [No. 1 is] a goal for me honestly. I said before that we are having a really good battle for the No. 1, Novak and I,” Alcaraz said. “I knew that he was going to recover the No. 1 after US Open.

“When the tournament is over, I will try to recover as soon as possible. That’s my goal. I am working for that. The season has a lot of tournaments until the year is over. I’ll try to recover it before the tournament end, before the year end.”

Of course, many fans all over the world are hoping for a rematch of the Wimbledon final with Djokovic and Alcaraz squaring off again in the US Open final.

Alcaraz said his immediate plan is to lift his level round-by-round.

“I mean, it was great to step on court again in the Arthur Ashe after such a great run last year. I was excited to come back,” Alcaraz said. “I’m not thinking about the defending the title. I was not thinking about I was the champion last year. I just focus on play my best level, to recover the level that I played last year, try to do same things that I did last year. That’s the only thing that I’m thinking right now.

“I try to be apart about all the pressure people put of me about the defending champion.”