Novak Djokovic gives Carlos Alcaraz a hint of the shot he doesn’t want to hit at the US Open

Novak Djokovic at the US Open Credit: Alamy
Novak Djokovic at the US Open Credit: Alamy

Novak Djokovic came through a real scare at the US Open as he came back from two sets down to beat compatriot Laslo Djere on Friday and he may have given a hint after the match of the type of ball he does not want to receive in the final Grand Slam of 2023.

The three-time US Open champion recovered from losing the opening two sets 4-6, 4-6 to break his opponent’s serve in the first game of the third and that provided the catalyst for him to put together a run which saw him win 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 to progress to the fourth round.

It was the eighth time in his career the three-time champion Djokovic, who is aiming to match Australian Margaret Court’s tally of major wins, had successfully recovered from such a deficit.

In his post-match interviews, an honest Djokovic admitted he has been stretched to breaking point by Djere, yet one comment in his media duties may have been picked up by Carlos Alcaraz and his team ahead of a potential final against the Serbian next Sunday.

A few more hurdles need to be overcome before the tennis world gets to lap up a showdown between Djokovic and Alcaraz in the US Open final, with the Serbian’s confession that the slower conditions in New York are not to his liking making for an interesting insight.

“Playing at night, obviously the conditions are different to the day,” said Djokovic. “The ball bounces even lower and a lot of players have spoken about the slower conditions this year.

“Everything was in his striking zone and honestly, it was a struggle for me to find a solution. I didn’t have many options in the beginning, but I lifted myself and the crowd helped.”

Andy Murray also spoke about the slower conditions in New York, yet that issue didn’t seem to impact Alcaraz as he blasted past Dan Evans to reach the fourth round on Saturday.

If the conditions are slow, Alcaraz’s explosive power with his groundstrokes may give him an edge over Djokovic in that key area.

Djere pushed Djokovic all the way so Alcaraz hopes to take that discomfort to the next level, with Alcaraz getting more out of the US Open call than most so far.

The US Open ball is supplied by Wilson, the sporting giant celebrating the 45th year of their association with the tournament in 2023.

We spoke to the Wilson team who gave us the inside story on how the ball being used by men and women at this year’s US Open is put together.

What makes goes into making the perfect tennis ball?

Wilson: A high-quality core with limited or no fillers, premium woven felt, and a whole lot of love!

What technology goes into making a Wilson tennis ball?

Wilson: The tennis ball goes through three different compression mould phases – the first to mould the half-shell, the second to mould and pressurize the core, and the third to adhere the felt. Selecting the felt is where a lot of the play characteristics come from. There is an incredible amount of technology that goes into the entire production process, from felt to core. Once we have a concept and have gone through the processes of making a tennis ball- we are continually testing – existing and new concepts – we are always trying to learn and improve.

How does a clay court ball different to the US Open ball?

Wilson: The clay court ball has a very different feel than a hard court ball. The clay court ball has more texture to it and will fluff a little more. This will lead to a ball that plays a bit more dynamic with the court surface compared to a hard court.

Do ex-players or current players have an input into the development of tennis balls?

Wilson: Yes! We work to get a very diversified scope of player feedback – all the way from the recreational level to the pro level.

Should we look at better ways to recycle tennis balls?

Wilson: We should always be looking for new and creative ways to recycle tennis balls. RecycleBalls has done a tremendous job in the States collecting and recycling old balls. We are always looking at new ways for sustainable practices and we want to be at the forefront of this from a tennis brand perspective. Additionally, balls can find a new life in classrooms, nursing homes, and dog parks. But there are still plenty of used tennis balls to go around for new ways to recycle.

 Credit: Alamy
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