Djokovic excited to sample Ryder Cup atmosphere first hand
Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz face an angry response from supporters after signing up to an exhibition event in Saudi Arabia. The Riyadh Tennis Season Cup is set to take place a matter of weeks before the Australian Open, going against the two players’ prior complaints about a demanding schedule.
Djokovic and Alcaraz will be joined by the likes of Aryna Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur in Riyadh. The four names will spearhead the event, which is scheduled to take place between December 26 and December 27.
The lucrative two-day spectacle will give the quartet in question an opportunity to limber up ahead of the 2024 season. The Australian Open will be only three weeks down the line by the time they take to the court in Saudi Arabia.
And the decision to take part in the exhibition event has gone down badly among some tennis fans, given the players’ previous complaints about the rigours of a demanding tennis season.
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Alcaraz, for example, pulled out of Spain’s recent cluster of Davis Cup matches so that he could preserve energy for the remainder of the year. “I was very excited to play for [the Spanish] Davis [Cup team] in Valencia, but I have to listen to my body after a very long tour,” he wrote on X in September.
“I need to stop and rest, physically and mentally. The calendar is very demanding, there is still a lot of season left, and now I have to recharge my batteries. Good luck to the Spanish team. I will be supporting you strongly!”
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Earlier this year, Djokovic aired his concerns about a newly-introduced 12-day format for Masters 1000 events. “If you’re a fan, of course an extra day of seeing the top players is great because you have more tennis in your city,” he explained.
“I understand from that point of view. I’m personally overall not a fan of that because I feel like we already have four Grand Slams a year that take two plus one week, eventually, if you go all the way with training.”
With Rafael Nadal still working his way back from long-term injury issues, Djokovic and Alcaraz are set to be the big draws in Riyadh. The pair met in the Wimbledon final earlier this summer as Alcaraz prevailed in a five-set classic.
The Spaniard has spoken out on the budding rivalry, admitting that his vastly more experienced adversary is on his mind whenever he hits the practice courts. “I practice with a goal, I go to the tournaments with a goal,” he said. “It’s trying to end the year as No 1 so Novak Djokovic is around my mind almost in every practice.”
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