Carlos Alcaraz played down concerns about a fresh leg injury after reaching the final of the Rio Open on Saturday, saying it was normal for him to compete with some pain and he would be 100 per cent ready to face Cameron Norrie.
Alcaraz claimed the U.S. Open title in September and became the youngest player to top the world rankings at 19 but suffered an abdominal issue at the Paris Masters in November and pulled out of last month’s Australian Open with a leg problem.
He twice needed treatment on his left leg in the second set of his semi-final against qualifier Nicolas Jarry, but sealed a 6-7(2) 7-5 6-0 victory to set up a rematch with Norrie after beating the Briton in last week’s Buenos Aires final.
“I don’t worry about that. It’s a tennis player’s life,” Alcaraz said of his leg issue. “Playing with some pain is normal for a tennis player. Even more if we are playing win by win, no break for almost 14 days in a row.
“It’s normal. I’m going to take care of that and go into the final 100 per cent.”
Having been leapfrogged by Novak Djokovic in the rankings, Alcaraz can close the gap on the Serbian with another title and the 19-year-old said he was proud of his level after winning an eighth match in 11 days on his comeback.
“To be in a final again in my second tournament is a really special moment,” Alcaraz added.
“I couldn’t ask for a better start to 2023.”
Norrie reached Sunday’s final at the claycourt tournament – his third of the season – with 6-2 3-6 7-6(3) win over Bernabe Zapata Miralles.
“I’m going to have to finish the points (in the final) and execute and execute well,” Norrie said. “Otherwise I’m going to have no chance.”