Novak Djokovic appears to have quelled any fears he could miss the French Open after appearing in the Rome Masters draw, which will also mark the first time he will play a tournament with Carloz Alcaraz. Djokovic sent a scare through the tennis world ahead of the Madrid Open after his withdrawal, despite remaining quiet on his reasons.
While Djokovic didn't make an announcement, the 22-time grand slam champion admitted he was struggling with an elbow injury leading into the clay court season. "My elbow is not in an ideal shape but good enough to be ready for the first match," Djokovic told reporters ahead of the Srpska Open tournament.
The World No.1 lost in his second round at Monte Carlo and at the Srpska Open, which prompted a shock withdrawal from Madrid. However, Djokovic has delighted fans having been included in the Italian Open draw ahead of the French Open.
Another exciting prospect is the inclusion of World No.2, soon to be World No.1, Alcaraz. Incredibly, Djokovic and Alcaraz have not played in the same tournament in 2023.
The Spaniard missed the Australian Open, which Djokovic won, but has returned and since won two masters including the Madrid Open. The duo have only been in the same tournament twice since Wimbledon last year and have not played each other.
The potential match-up has tennis fans salivating with a potential face-off at the French Open waiting. The pair haven't played since Alcaraz defeated Djokovic on his way to the Madrid Open title in 2022.
Depending on any huge shocks in Rome, Alcaraz will head into Paris as favourite. But Djokovic won't be far behind if he proves the elbow injury is behind him and defends his title in Rome.
For the first time all year, #1 Novak Djokovic and #2 Carlos Alcaraz are appearing in a draw together. https://t.co/iLPWIO0H9Y
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 8, 2023
In less than two hours, Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz will be drawn in the same tournament. I will believe it when I see it. 👀
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) May 8, 2023
Would be interesting to see Djokovic with Alcaraz at the end, but considering the recent issue that Djokovic had, do not expect him to make to the final. And perhaps he even consider this tournament just as a prep for the French Open, not as something important to win
— PointsOfView (@PointsOfView23) May 8, 2023
Every player facing Djokovic Nadal or Alcaraz moving forward should be legally required to watch this match.
— The Big Three (@Big3Tennis) May 7, 2023
I can’t believe Djokovic & Alcaraz are playing the same tournament! https://t.co/dHShz8siKf
— Shobhit (@NovakGOATovic) May 8, 2023
Djokovic will have to play rune, sinner and alcaraz back to back. Are u kidding me?? This is toughest possible draw one can get. https://t.co/U1mUvbFFQV
— sunshine. (@crazyheadimp) May 8, 2023
If all the top seeds progress, Djokovic faces a potential blockbuster clash with youngster Holger Rune in the quarter-final. Djokovic could then play Jannik Sinner, before a potential face-off with Alcaraz in the final of Rome.
Alcaraz won't be too fazed on his performance in Rome as he will look to maximise his recovery ahead of a maiden French Open title quest.
Carlos Alcaraz to take World No.1 ranking
Regardless of the results in Rome, Alcaraz is set to head into the French Open as World No.1. Alcaraz only has to set foot on the court in Rome and play one match to overtake Djokovic and regain the World No.1 ranking.
While the ranking won't make a huge difference in Paris, it will mark the second time this year Alcaraz has grabbed the top spot off Djokovic.
Alcaraz has been in sensational form since returning after his Australian Open absence. Winning in the Madrid Open final was Alcaraz's 29th victory of the season, and 21st straight in Spain going back to a loss to Rafael Nadal in Madrid on his 18th birthday two years ago.
Alcaraz's other titles this year came in Buenos Aires and Indian Wells. He is the first player to win two Masters 1000 trophies this season.
Rafa Nadal continues his absence from the clay court campaign and won't play a warm-up tournament before Roland Garros if he chooses to compete at his favourite grand slam.
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