The 36-year-old Serbian is still one of the best players in the world, which he proved this year multiple times. He's likely going to finish as number one in front of Alcaraz in 2023, and that shows that if the Spaniard wants to be at the top, he'll have to go through Djokovic.
It's just how it happens in tennis because Djokovic himself had to go through Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to find himself at the top. Alcaraz now needs to prove that he can because the last time he took the top spot, Djokovic couldn't play (2022, US Open).
Annacone talked to the Tennis Channel's Inside-In Podcast on which he discussed the young Spaniard's career, as well as his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.
The Alcaraz quote I wanted to get back to. I'm thinking about Djokovic like he's on my mind. Sure, he's going to be focused on him... I think Alcaraz and Juan Carlos Ferrero do such a good job at looking at the macro, that they're going to focus on the big picture. And they know that that journey is going to have Novak in front of them for the time being. Yeah, the age gap is a big point in this.
The quote Annacone referenced was made by Alcaraz a few weeks ago during his stay in China, where he was asked about Djokovic and learning from him. Alcaraz admitted that he always has Djokovic on his mind, which might explain why they keep practicing against each other.
People questioned the validity of giving Djokovic a closer look at his game, but Alcaraz dismissed any concern. We'll see in Turin if they play whether it was reason to be concerned about. Their last Cincinnati match was going well for Alcaraz, but then Djokovic turned it upside down and won.
I think [about Djokovic] almost in every practice, I am not going to lie. I train with a goal. I go to the tournaments with a goal. To try to end the year as No. 1. He is on my mind in almost every practice. I have to practice my best. I have to go for 100% in every ball to be able to catch him.