Carlos Alcaraz is excited by the prospect of potentially facing Novak Djokovic in the Italian Open final.
Alcaraz is competing in the event for the first time and will face Fábián Marozsán in the round of 32 on Monday after defeating Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-4, 6-1 in his opening match.
The Spaniard — who will return to World No. 1 after the tournament — could go on to potentially face current No. 1 and defending Rome champion Djokovic in the final in a matchup between two of the best players in the world today.
Despite them playing hot potato with the No. 1 ranking over the last few months, they have only faced each other once and that was in the Madrid Open semifinal last year when Alcaraz came out on top.
That is why Alcaraz hopes to face Djokovic and prove he is ready for the challenge the 22-time Grand Slam champion possesses.
“Yes, of course. It’s always a big challenge to play against Novak but as you said it’s a long run before the final and I hope to play the final here in my first appearance in Rome, would be, could be great,” Alcaraz told Tennis Channel’s Prakash Amritra (via Tennis 365). “Of course, as you say, if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
“Playing against Novak here, it’s such an iconic tournament for him as well. He won a lot of times here, made a lot of finals as well. I know he feels really really comfortable here and he has a lot of chances to make the finals. In my case, I want to work and play my best tennis to make that possible.”
Djokovic, meanwhile, is in the round of 16 following his Sunday win over Grigor Dmitrov. He faces Britain's Cameron Norrie next as he looks to defend his Italian Open crown.