Roger Federer’s former coach picks out ‘problem’ for Alcaraz and Djokovic

If Novak Djokovic and Carlos Alcaraz make it through to the US Open final, Paul Annacone believes it will ultimately come down to who is in the better physical condition. There’s been little to separate the top-two ranked players in men’s tennis over the past few months.

Alcaraz in particular has enjoyed a stellar year having reached eight tournament finals, losing just two. But it’s been his budding rivalry with Serbian icon Djokovic that has grabbed the attention of sports fans all over the world.

A cramping Alcaraz was unable to challenge Djokovic in Roland Garros earlier this year, but he got his revenge in some style by stopping the 36-year-old’s long unbeaten run in the Wimbledon final. The pair met once again in the final of the Cincinnati Masters in another instant classic with Djokovic getting his revenge on the Spaniard.

And they’re on course for a third final in a matter of weeks with Ben Shelton and Daniil Medvedev standing in their way. Alcaraz holds a slight advantage heading into the semi-finals having spent just 10 hours and 26 minutes on court, compared to Djokovic who’s been on court for 11 hours and 41 minutes.

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And Annacone, who coached Roger Federer between 2010 and 2013, believes whoever is in better shape will ultimately come out on top on Sunday. “For me, it’s about who gets into that last match in the best physical and mental shape,” Annacone said on Tennis Channel.

“When you see what these guys have done in so many of their matches, this was a problem. 2023, two sets in and Alcaraz started to cramp in Paris and that was a sign that it was maybe about nerves.

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“What happens when we get to the grass courts of the All England Club? Not hot, not humid, not muggy but that man handled the pressure unbelievably well. Here in Cincinnati, how do you play three sets that long?!”

While Medvedev and Shelton will prove tough test for Alcaraz and Djokovic respectively, the top two seeds are clearly looking forward to another chapter in their rivalry. Alcaraz said: “It would be great to play a final against Novak here in New York, but we, well, both of us have really tough semifinal, so let’s see. But obviously both of us are looking for that potential final.”

Djokovic has also spoken of his desire to face off against the No 1 seed in another Grand Slam final. And the pair could get their wish if they both win their scheduled matches today.

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