How much better is Carlos Alcaraz than Novak Djokovic now?

Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports /

Novak Djokovic is an oddly divisive figure in tennis. Most of the people who may not care for him, pre-COVID, might not even know why. Maybe he just isn’t Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal and he can do nothing about that. He also now seems incapable of beating Carlos Alcaraz on the tennis court.

I realize that Carlos Alcaraz lost to Djokovic at the French Open after Alcaraz cramped up. But something just seems different after Alcaraz defeated Djokovic in the Wimbledon final. If someone were to offer you $1 million to place a bet on either Carlos Alcaraz or Novak Djokovic to win the US Open, who would you place it on? Seems silly to not place all that money on Alcaraz, doesn’t it?

The way that Alcaraz came back to beat Djokovic was shocking. Alcaraz beat Djokovic after the Spaniard lost the first set of the Grand Slam and Djokovic hadn’t lost a Grand Slam final in which he had won the first set since 2016. And then Alcaraz defeated Djokovic in the second set tie-break and Djokovic is legendarily good in tie-breaks.

Carlos Alcaraz is clearly better than Novak Djokovic (or anyone else) right now

The calm from Alcaraz’s coaching box after he lost the first set was surreal. There was no panic. His group still seemed as sure he would win the match as they were before the match began.

A look at the 2023 raw statistics proves more how Carlos Alcaraz has eclipsed Novak Djokovic. Alcaraz leads Djokovic in 1st serve return points won 37 percent to 34, leads Djoko in break points converted 44 percent to 40, and Alcaraz leads in return games won 35 percent to 29. Djokovic leads by a slight amount in terms of his own service games over Alcaraz, but then we saw in the Wimbledon final that Alcaraz can break Djokovic when it matters most and Djokovic couldn’t do the same to Acalaraz.

Few players ever, if any, have the flexibility that Djokovic has, but fewer players have the speed to cover the court that Alcaraz does. And Alcaraz so routinely gets to shots he shouldn’t and then strikes the ball so cleanly and with such ridiculous angles that he makes those shots look easy. They aren’t and many times only Carlos Alcaraz could win the point.

Plus, Alcaraz’s game is still ascending. He should get even better, which is ridiculous to think about because an argument could be made that when the 20-year-old is on top of his game, which he is most of the time, he has a higher ceiling than maybe anyone who had come before him. But I certainly don’t want to say yet that Alcaraz is the best player ever.

That argument could still be made for Novak Djokovic. Djokovic has spent far more weeks at number one in the ATP rankings than anyone else in history and he has more Grand Slams (23) than anyone else. Alcaraz only has two major titles so far. But right now and for the foreseeable future, Carlos Alcaraz is better than Djokovic or anyone else playing. And it’s not close.

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