Carlos Alcaraz has a better chance of defending his US Open title this year than he had of winning it last year, feels Somdev Dev Varman, a former World No. 62.
“First, he is only 20 years old. Then he is the defending champion who now has two grand slam titles under his belt. His chances are definitely better this year than last year,” he said during a virtual interaction on Saturday.
Alcaraz had a few tough matches in the recently concluded Cincinnati Open. He had a tough match against American Tommy Paul and then lost in a thriller to Novak Djokovic in the final.
“Let’s be realistic with our expectations from this guy. He did not really fare badly. He did struggle to beat Paul. But then played an incredible final which he lost to Djokovic. It was a great match, both physically and mentally.”
Somdev added: “Alcaraz is a fast learner. He learnt from that loss to Novak at the French Open, when he suffered from cramps to lose in the semi-finals. But then, at Wimbledon, he played a terrific five-setter to beat Novak in the final.”
Somdev agreed the top half of the US Open draw, which features the top seed and world No.1 Alcaraz is tougher than the bottom half led by Djokovic.
“Yes, the top half of the draw seems tougher with the likes of Daniil Medvedev and Jannik Sinner. But every time Alcaraz steps out at this US Open, he will be the favourite.”
Djokovic, the second seed, has an easier draw. “Here the question is who can beat him. Frankly, on his half of the draw, there is really no one who is expected to beat him. In the semis he may face Casper Ruud or Holger Rune. It should be easy,” Somdev said.
The former India No.1 said the rivalry between Djokovic and Alcaraz is tremendous for the game.
US Open will be telecast live on Sony Sports Network from August 28.