Carlos Alcaraz wishes he could go a little more unnoticed as he tries to move around the house of the U.S. Open.
This is of course not possible. New York is the last place to find peace when you’re the star of the show, and even at only 20 years oldit looks like the Spaniard is already at tennis.
He may not be the bettors’ favorite despite being the defending champion – Novak Djokovic is backafter all – but he certainly seems to be a popular choice among fans.
They will have to wait another day to watch him. Alcaraz is not on the program Monday for the first day of play, despite being the highest ranked Iga Swiatek opens his title defense in the afternoon and the two Coco Gauff, 19 years old and Djokovic play at night.
Alcaraz is set to take on Dominik Koepfer on Tuesday night, providing an extra day to put aside the distractions and hype that were already starting before he even won the title last year and have snowballed ever since.
Novak Djokovic (left) is the betting favorite to win the US Open against Carlos Alcaraz
Defending US Open champion Alcaraz returns to Flushing Meadows to retain crown
“Well, my life has changed a lot, a lot,” Alcaraz said this week with a smile. “It’s probably a different life, talking about how I’m, say, more famous. A lot of people are starting to know my name after the US Open last year, for example.
Her win over Casper Ruud made Alcaraz the first teenager to win the US Open men’s title since Pete Sampras in 1990.
Sampras, however, did not immediately rise to stardom, not with John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors still around and Andre Agassi having already burst onto the scene.
But with Roger Federer retired and compatriot Rafael Nadal sidelined since January due to injury, Alcaraz quickly drew many of his fans to his side, a fact he quickly discovered on his return to New York. York and noticed how many people recognized him when he recognized him. I went to restaurants or golf courses.
“Sometimes I like it; sometimes not,” Alcaraz said. “Sometimes you want to feel like a normal man, to walk normally. … Yeah, for a few days I would like to be someone you don’t recognize at all.
“But it will be impossible. I also have to enjoy this part. But sometimes it’s difficult.
But he clearly enjoys it. He played a point with NBA star Jimmy Butler at a charity event to raise money for humanitarian aid in Ukraine, then on Arthur Ashe’s Children’s Day, he scored a goal with an oversized tennis ball and teamed up with Swiatek will win a football-volleyball point.
Yet it’s his real tennis that viewers can’t wait to see. The style that everyone liked, the huge shots with his forehand and his deft touch on his drop shots, amazed Djokovic and McEnroe with everyone.
But Djokovic’s return comes after he missed the 2022 US Open due to a lack of a COVID vaccine.
Alcaraz and Djokovic both met earlier this year in the Wimbledon final, which Alcaraz won.
“This guy is amazing. Electric,” said McEnroe, now an ESPN analyst. He called Alcaraz “the most complete 20-year-old I’ve ever seen, and that includes Novak, Roger and Rafa.”
This led Alcaraz to a record 53 wins this season and six titles, including a second major trophy when he beat Djokovic at Wimbledon.
He is, however, coming off a defeat, beaten by Djokovic in a final in Cincinnati that lasted three sets and almost four hours.
That win, along with his men’s record 23 Grand Slam singles titles, are likely why Djokovic is the tournament favorite, according to FanDuel Sports Betting.
He and Alcaraz have met at the last two Grand Slams, and while they couldn’t make it in New York before the September 10 final, the 36-year-old Serbian won’t wait long to find out his new rival. .
“He is definitely one of the best players in the world in recent years,” Djokovic said. “Of course there’s always an eye following him from my team, from any other team. I know it’s probably the same for me.