Carlos Alcaraz loves the morning-to-midnight action of Grand Slam tennis, saying he spends all day checking the scores. (More Tennis News)
Then he already knows his side of the U.S. Open draw has grown significantly tougher than Novak Djokovic’s.
The defending champion beat Lloyd Harris 6-3, 6-1, 7-6 (4) Thursday night to reach the third round, where most of the top players in his half of the bracket remain.
The second-seeded Djokovic’s bottom half of the draw has already seen losses by No. 4 Holger Rune, No. 5 Casper Ruud and No. 7 Stefanos Tsitsipas. While some players say they focus only on themselves, the 20-year-old Alcaraz is aware of what’s happening all around him.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s in the top part or the bottom part (of the draw), I’m following all the results,” Alcaraz said.
Ninth-seeded Taylor Fritz and No. 10 Frances Tiafoe, who lost to Alcaraz in the 2022 U.S. Open semifinals, are the only other top-10 seeds left in the bottom half of the draw. The top half still includes No. 3 Daniil Medvedev, No. 6 Jannik Sinner, No. 8 Andrey Rublev and No. 12 Alexander Zverev, the runner-up three years ago in Flushing Meadows.
Alcaraz would be ready for any of them if he plays as well as he did against Harris, when he broke serve five times, the final one to quickly recover after falling behind 4-2 in the third set.
“I think I played great, a great match,” Alcaraz said.
Next up is No. 26 Dan Evans of Britain on Saturday. Alcaraz has won both previous meetings, including earlier this season in Barcelona.
“He’s a really tough player. Good serve-and-volley, good net game,” Alcaraz said. “It’s going to be really tough. I will play my best. I will have to return very, very well if I want to win that match.”