It's almost a shock of generations: at 36 years old, Djokovic is nine years older than the oldest of the seven other participants in the 2023 Masters, the Russian Daniil Medvedev (27 years old). In the group stage, in the green group, the world No.1 and defending champion will be opposed to three “kids”, the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas (25 years old), the Italian Jannik Sinner (22 years old) and the Dane Holger Rune (20 years).
But “Djoko”, who this year equaled the record for major trophies (24) thanks to his coronations in Melbourne, Roland-Garros and New York, shows no sign of slowing down. He joined the capital of Piedmont after his success in Paris last Sunday, with a sixth title in 2023, his 40th Masters 1000, his 97th ATP tournament. Before facing Rune on Sunday (9:00 p.m.), the Serb won his last 18 matches. If he remains far from his record unbeaten run of 43 matches between 2010 and 2011, he can set yet another record by winning the “Masters tournament” for the seventh time, which he currently co-holds with Roger Federer. Other unprecedented marks in the history of tennis in his sights, he can finish the season in first place in the world for the eighth time and reach 400 weeks of presence on the throne of world No.1. “I came here with the ambition of finishing the season with a title and in the best possible way,” he confided.
“But in this tournament, there is never an easy match or a group easier than another. The best players in the world are there and each match is like a final,” added the Serb at a press conference on Friday. His first opponent, Holger Rune, is one of the few on the circuit to have no complexes facing Djokovic, as evidenced by the results of their confrontations (2 victories each).
For his first participation in the Masters, the Dane, now driven by Boris Becker, three-time winner of the event, sets no limits: “The more I play, the more I have fun,” he assured. Among the other participants, three have already entered the closed circle of “Masters”, Tsitsipas in 2019, Medvedev in 2020 and the German Alexander Zverev twice (2018, 2021). But it is a newcomer to the tournament who arouses, besides Djokovic of course, the most expectations. The most questions too. If he has already been world No.1 and won two Grand Slam titles, Carlos Alcaraz has never participated in the Masters, because he was deprived of the 2022 edition due to an abdominal injury.
The 20-year-old Spanish prodigy won six titles in 2023, like Djokovic, including Wimbledon, but since September, the world No.2 has been slowing down, as shown by his elimination in his first match in Paris. “It took me several days to digest this defeat, it hurt me,” he admitted on Friday. “But I feel pretty good, I worked well, both physically and tennis-wise.” If he no longer believes in his chances of beating Djokovic to end the year as world No.1, “Carlitos” remains ambitious: “I'm 100%, I want to make the most of it.”