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Carlos Alcaraz says focus will not change as French Open top seed, Rafael Nadal declines wildcard

ROME – Carlos Alcaraz said being the top seed at the French Open was “crazy”, something he would not have believed years ago, but the Spaniard will not dwell too much on his position heading into the year’s second Grand Slam.

Alcaraz, who turned 20 this month, captured the US Open title in September to become the youngest man to top the world rankings. He will leapfrog Novak Djokovic into the No. 1 spot again after the ongoing Italian Open.

He is also assured of top billing at the May 28-June 11 French Open.

“It’s great to be the No. 1 seed at Roland Garros, in a Grand Slam, it’s something crazy,” Alcaraz said after his 6-4, 6-1 victory over Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Rome on Saturday. “I wouldn’t have believed it years ago, but yes, I’m very happy.

“It doesn’t change too much to be the No. 1 or No. 2 seed – I just focus on the tournament, on my game, on every match, and that’s something that I try not to think about.

“But of course, it’s something great.”

Alcaraz overcame an injury-hit start to 2023 and has already claimed four titles, including clay-court crowns in Buenos Aires, Barcelona and Madrid, to emerge as one of the top contenders for the trophy in Paris.

“I grew up a lot in a year,” Alcaraz said of his meteoric rise. “I have more experience. I have played great matches. I grew up thanks to that a lot. I’m more mature as well.

“I would say in just a year I’m a totally different player. I read the match better than last year. I would say this year is totally different for me.”

Meanwhile, Rafael Nadal has turned down a wildcard offer for next week’s Challenger tournament in Bordeaux as the Spaniard’s participation in the French Open hangs in the balance, the clay-court event director said on Sunday.

Nadal has been struggling with a hip injury he suffered at the Australian Open in January, and fears the Spaniard may miss the Paris Grand Slam grew after he pulled out of this week’s Italian Open.

“I offered him (Nadal’s agent Carlos Costa) one of the wildcards. He very kindly told me that Nadal was continuing his preparation at home in Manacor, that he was not ready and was in a race against time to be ready for the French Open,” Jean-Baptiste Perlant told French sports daily L’Equipe.

Nadal skipped last week’s Madrid Open and missed tournaments at Indian Wells, Miami, Monte Carlo and Barcelona. REUTERS