Carlos Alcaraz battling big injury worry ahead of his first match in Monte-Carlo

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Carlos Alcaraz has served up a huge injury concern ahead of his opening match in Monte-Carlo Masters, after a worrying practice session.

Alcaraz has slipped down to No 3 in the latest ATP rankings after the stunning form of Jannik Sinner saw him usurped in the No 2 position.

The Wimbledon champion has quickly felt the cost of that slip in the rankings as he is in the same half of the draw as world No 1 Novak Djokovic in Monte-Carlo.

Yet thoughts of a potential semi-final meeting with Djokovic seem a little distant after Alcaraz took to the clay courts with a heavily bandaged right forearm.

Alcaraz has a hectic schedule ahead of him in the next few weeks as he will aim to defend the titles in Barcelona and Madrid after his appearance in Monte-Carlo, meaning he is defending big ranking points from last year.

So the sight of Alcaraz appeared to show some discomfort in his forearm as he practiced ahead of his opening match against Canada’s Felix Auger Aliassime.

Alacarz was seen talking to his coaching team and making gestures about his arm injury in a practice session that appeared to lack some intensity on Monday, sparking concerns he may not be at his best against Aliassime.

With the clay court season so important to Alcaraz’s year, it will be intriguing to see if he pushes himself to play in Monte-Carlo if he has injury doubts, with his return to Spain in the ATP 500 tournament Barcelona under a week away.

At his pre-tournament press conference, Alcaraz spoke about his emerging rivalry with Sinner, as he looked forward to what would only be a second meeting on clay courts with the in-form Italian.

“Jannik and I have played just once on clay and he beat me,” said Alcaraz. “He is an amazing player on any surface and he adapts his game very well.

“Every time we play, it is a great match and I don’t know if clay is going to be better for me against him. Let’s see if it happens in this tournament.

“I’m really happy to be here in Monte-Carlo,” he added. “I have watched his tournament many times, but I have only played once here before.

“Let’s see if I can do a good run here and make it to the final rounds. This tournament is a tough one with really difficult players so let’s see.”

Aliassime is getting used to playing the biggest names in the game early in tournaments after his slide down the ATP Rankings and he is relishing a clash with Alcaraz.

“I used to play these guys later in the draw, but that’s a reality I’m facing now,” said the Canadian.

“That’s all right: I need to get through these matches and I need to win some of them. Again, it’s a good challenge, and that’s what I play for. I like to win the other matches but when you play guys like him, Sinner, Zverev, these are the guys you want to play and beat.

“I’m sure there are other guys he’d rather play for his first match on clay, as well!”

The 20-year-old recently spoke about his love of playing golf as he looks to switch off from tennis and some medical experts may suggest that could add to the strain on his arms in his primary sport.

Now all eyes will be on Alcaraz if he takes to the court against Aliassime, as that heavily bandaged arm does not look in good shape ahead of a hectic few weeks of the tennis season.

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