The Spaniard qualified in Cincinnati last season but will start third this week. He has already won four titles this year, including two ATP Masters 1000 triumphs.
“At the moment I take every game as a challenge for me to stay the same as always. I’m world No. 4, one of the favorites to win this tournament, so it’s a bit difficult to deal with the pressure,” Alcaraz said in his pre-tournament press conference on Sunday.
“But I’m training at my best. I train with the goal of improving and trying to produce the game that I produced during the clay court season and in Miami. It’s a challenge for me to be like that.”
The 19-year-old holds a 42-8 record this season, bolstered by title runs at ATP Masters 1000 events in Miami and Madrid. However, Alcaraz arrives in Ohio after his earliest season finish.
The world No. 4 lost in the second round in Montreal but is looking to bounce back in Cincinnati. He wants to use his defeat against it Thomas Paul as a valuable learning experience.
“I understood everything that happened in Montreal. I couldn’t take the pressure of being one of the favorites to win the tournament or make the rankings I’m on right now. I come here to train and now to show where I am,” said Alcaraz. “The kind of player I am means I try to use the pressure in my favour. I know I’m playing against the best players in the world, so I’ll do my best.”
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Alcaraz feels his success this season, which he described as ‘insane’, has made players raise their level against him. But the 19-year-old sees it positively.
“I take it as a compliment. I think all players push themselves to be better on the pitch against me,” said Alcaraz. “I think if they don’t play aggressively or at a high level it’s going to be a really tough game for them, so I take that as a compliment.”
Alcaraz will face Nikoloz Basilashvili or Mackenzie McDonald in his opening game at the hard court Masters 1000 event. The Spaniard is aiming for a deep run in Cincinnati to bolster his position of second in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.