'What Could Have Happened?': Alcaraz Surprised By Djokovic's Madrid Withdrawal

'What Could Have Happened?': Alcaraz Surprised By Djokovic's Madrid Withdrawal

by Nurein Ahmed

Carlos Alcaraz was in disbelief upon hearing that Novak Djokovic would not be playing at this year's Madrid Open.

Djokovic has played in four tournaments with almost half of the season gone. He has an 11-4 record for the season, with his best result being the semifinal finish at the Australian Open, where he lost to eventual champion Jannik Sinner in four sets.

The Serbian legend took a full month off from tennis in February before returning to the United States at the start of March. He played at the Indian Wells Masters for the first time in five years.

But his journey to California was short-lived. In the third round, Italian lucky loser Luca Nardi ousted him from the tournament in one of the biggest upsets in Masters 1000 history.

Djokovic pulled out of Miami shortly after, citing the need to balance his professional and private life. Tennis pundits Laura Robson and Tim Henman backed his decision.

It was also during that time that he announced his shocking parting of ways with Croatian coach Goran Ivanisevic, a man who had been integral in overseeing the 36-year-old's most productive period of his career.

Djokovic began preparing for the clay swing and played his first tournament on the dirt in Monte Carlo. Despite setting the record for the most Masters 1000 semifinals, he could not prevent Casper Ruud from inflicting his fourth defeat of the season.

He was expected to continue his clay-court preparations by playing in Madrid. But despite traveling to the Spanish capital, Djokovic had other commitments. The 24-time Grand Slam champion made the trip to collect a record-equalling fifth Laureus Sportsman of the Year award.

Prior to that prize-giving ceremony, Djokovic had already confirmed his Madrid Open withdrawal, although no reason was given for his absence. One of Djokovic's rivals is two-time defending champion Carlos Alcaraz, who was already looking forward to welcoming him back at his home tournament.

But it was not to be, although the pair shared a light-hearted moment at the awards night in Madrid. Alcaraz has since explained his immediate reaction when he learned that Djokovic would not play at the event when he spoke to MARCA.

"Miami (Djokovic's withdrawal) didn't surprise me at all. From Madrid, yes. My friends told me and I said to myself: 'Oh, what could have happened?""


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