"I think for Carlos to improve, he needs to play against one of the best in history" - Ferrero on why facing Djokovic is essential for Alcaraz's development

Juan Carlos Ferrero believes Novak Djokovic’s presence at the world’s biggest tournaments is essential for the development of his charge Carlos Alcaraz, the Spanish coach told Eurosport this week.

Team Alcaraz is celebrating the conclusion of a phenomenal 2022 campaign that saw the 19-year-old phenom become the youngest ever player to summit the ATP rankings and secure the year-end No.1 spot.

Alcaraz won a maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open in September, in the absence of Djokovic, who had to miss two of the four majors this year for not being vaccinated.

Djokovic made the most of the remainder of the season however, triumphing at Wimbledon, Rome, Tel Aviv, Astana and closing out 2022 by clinching a record-equalling sixth ATP Finals crown in Turin.

With news emerging from Australia that Djokovic’s ban is being lifted and that he will be allowed to enter the country and compete in Melbourne in January, Ferrero says it will be a great opportunity for Alcaraz to potentially square off with the 21-time major champion Down Under.

“We need him,” said Ferrero, referring to Djokovic. “I think for Carlos to improve his tennis he needs to play against one of the best in the history. Of course Rafa [Nadal] is there to play against him and Novak, we need him.

“In Madrid Carlos played against Novak and he increased his level to try to win the match, so that’s what we need, to play in the Slams against him, I think it’s very important for Carlos to improve.”

Djokovic won 18 of his last 19 matches of the season, including an undefeated run at the ATP Finals – something that has not surprised Ferrero one bit.

“I think after the US Open, which he couldn’t play, he was very focused to show himself that he is able to win almost everything that he played, we saw again that he’s able to do it,” said Ferrero of the Serb.

“He presented himself to all the players that he’s going to be there and that he has the possibility to play in Australia, I think he’s very happy about it and I think the rest of the players as well.

“Carlos and I were talking about that we’re happy to see Novak there because if you want to win the Australian Open you have to win against the best, and of course it’s good news. But of course it didn’t surprise me at all that he won in Turin.”

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