“One of the best matches of the year in these circumstances playing probably the biggest rival I had this year, Carlos. We had some epic matches. Actually, all three matches we played this year were marathon matches that went the distance,” Djokovic said. “I think everyone expected, including probably both of us, that we were going to have a long night, a big fight, a long match.
“I just managed to I guess step it up. When I broke his serve at 4-3 in the first set, played a really flawless match until the end of the match. Played great tennis, high level, put a lot of pressure on his service games, made him play. I served really well when I needed to.”
Djokovic needed three hours and 49 minutes to defeat the 20-year-old in the Cincinnati final. But by playing what he called “one of the best matches of the year”, the Serbian faced much less difficulty at the Pala Alpitour.
“Couldn't be coming at a better time for me, considering that I maybe wasn't playing my best tennis in the first three group stages, matches of the group stages,” Djokovic said. “But tonight I played close to my very, very best.”
In response to a question about similarities between Alcaraz and his countryman Rafael Nadal, Djokovic made his stance clear.
“They are different players. In terms of the maybe great occasion and the feeling of the intensity on the court that he brings, yeah, there is some similarity. But he's a completely different player from Rafa,” Djokovic said. “He's one of the most complete players that I [have] ever faced in my career. It's quite impressive for his age that he's able to play consistently well for now several years already, and he's the youngest-ever No. 1 in the world that we [have] had.
“A brilliant career already, and I think it's quite obvious that he's going to have a brilliant career full of success in the years to come. He's still very, very young. But, yeah, he does bring the best out of me. He makes me prepare for the match as best that I possibly can.”
Djokovic will hope to do the same on Sunday when he tries to earn revenge against Jannik Sinner for his loss earlier in the week. The Serbian can break his tie with Roger Federer for most titles in tournament history by winning his seventh trophy.
“Ended up the year as No. 1 in the world, reached really all the objectives that I had, broke many records, made history of the sport. Of course, I'm thrilled with the season,” Djokovic said. “But one more match to go. Hopefully I can crown the season with another win.”