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Alcaraz confident of hitting top form for Australian Open – Free Malaysia Today

ABU DHABI: World No 1 Carlos Alcaraz is confident he will be ready to compete at his best level at next month’s Australian Open, despite an abdominal injury that shortened his pre-season training block.
The 19-year-old Spaniard recovered from a muscle tear in his left abdomen that ruled him out of the ATP finals and Davis Cup finals at the end of his last campaign and only started practising fully a week ago.
Two defeats to Andrey Rublev and Casper Ruud at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship in Abu Dhabi this weekend helped Alcaraz dip his toes back into action and he believes he has enough time to train and find his game before the first Grand Slam of 2023 comes along on Jan 16.
“I would say the key is to practise a lot, spend a lot of hours on court. With that, you’re going to reach your best level and be ready for the season,” the reigning US Open champion told reporters in the UAE capital.
“I have one month before the Australian Open, so I have time to keep training, trying to reach my level and I would say I will be ready and 100% heading into Australia.”
The Spanish teenager, who is the youngest world No 1 in ATP history, will not contest any official tournaments prior to the Australian Open, but will participate in an exhibition at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in Melbourne between Jan 10 and 12.
Alcaraz is aware 2023 will come with new experiences for him now that he is a Grand Slam winner and is at the summit of the rankings.
“I have to be prepared for that, the pressure. The people, the players as well, are going to have all their eyes on me and I’m going to have to be prepared for that,” he explained.
But he also believes the fact that he is coming off an injury and has not had much time to train could relieve some of the pressure entering Australia.
“Probably it’s going to help me a little bit to try not to think about the people, the expectations, and the ranking, and that kind of stuff,” he said today.
“I’m just going to see myself better, trying to push myself to a high level. The expectations, the ranking, and the tournament is apart from that.
“Right now I’m focused on myself, on recovering my level and I would say little by little I’m recovering.”
Tsitsipas wins title
Meanwhile, world No 3 Casper Ruud is also looking to back up a phenomenal season in which he reached two Grand Slam finals – in Paris and New York – and was runner-up at the ATP Finals in Turin.
The Norwegian, who secured third place at the exhibition in Abu Dhabi with a 6-1, 6-4 victory over Alcaraz today, has not had much time off post-Turin, having participated in a South American tour with Rafael Nadal, but plans on having a proper training block in February after the Australian Open.
Discussing his outlook for 2023, Ruud said: “I think it’s going to be fine no matter what. If I finish next year No 1, I’ll be the happiest man on earth probably.
“I’m going to need a big year in order to stay where I am. I know there are a lot of things to defend but in the end exactly which number you are, I don’t think it always matters as much.
“As long as you’re top eight or top 10, I think that’s where most players aim for when they start a new year.”
Greek world No 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas defeated Rublev today to secure the title in Abu Dhabi.
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