Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz played a meaningless exhibition this week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia which Alcaraz won in three sets 4-6 6-4 6-4. The point of matches like this is twofold. One is the players make a lot of money, likely at least around $1 million each for Djokovic and Alcaraz for the Ryadh match. Two is to play tennis in front of people who do not normally get to see such great players.
Do the players care who wins? Probably not very much. They play hard, sure, but they are not competing as they would have had the match been a Grand Slam final. Some exhibitions are likely planned out before the match on who wins, though I am not implying Djokovic versus Alcaraz was. The other point is not to get hurt before the real matches begin for the 2024 tennis season.
But some of the comments made after the match were quite interesting. Alcaraz pointed out that Djokovic still plays like a 20 year old, which also happens to be Alcaraz's current age. Carlos Alcaraz also said he dreams of being in Djokovic's lofty position one day - Djokovic has won 24 Grand Slams and 40 Masters 1000s, for instance.
Novak Djokovic gives Carlos Alcaraz some high praise
On the court after the match, Novak Djokovic revealed who he thinks will be running tennis for the next decade-plus. That would be Carlos Alcaraz. And Djokovic was effusive in his praise.
Djokovic said, "It's fantastic to have Alcaraz in our sport. He is one of the leaders of this sport today and he is going to carry our sport for the next 10 to 15 years. We are going to see a lot of him, tennis is in good hands."
So is Djokovic simply handing the reign of tennis over to Alcaraz or Jannik Sinner? Likely not. While there is little doubt that Djokovic's words were genuine, he also isn't one to give up and let King Carlos rule. Even though the match this week was an exhibition, Djokovic will still probably use the result of the match as fuel for his internal fire when playing Alcaraz in a match that matters in the future.