Carlos Alcaraz vs Novak Djokovic live score, updates, highlights & result from Riyadh Season Tennis Cup

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Carlos Alcaraz claimed bragging rights in the latest chapter of his budding rivalry with Novak Djokovic, defeating the Serbian at the Riyadh Season Tennis Cup.

The Spanish sensation recovered from losing the first set to triumph 4-6 6-4 6-4 against the world No.1 in an exhibition match staged in Saudi Arabia.

Their previous meeting was surprisingly one-sided, Djokovic easing to a 6-3 6-2 win at the ATP World Tour Finals in November 2023. The intensity may have been a little lower on December 27, with each man very much in warm-up mode as they prepare for the start of the 2024 season and the Australian Open on January 14, but this was still an intriguing contest played to the kind of standard that will have the rest of the ATP Tour worried.

It was Djokovic who took early control, winning the first set despite dropping serve in the opening game. He gradually assumed authority on the court, forcing Alcaraz to try to up the ante in a bid to throw him off-kilter. Instead, the Spaniard coughed up a second break at 4-5 down with back-to-back double faults.

However, much as he did after losing a one-sided first set in this year’s Wimbledon final, Alcaraz went from strength to strength as the match wore on. He began to look lighter on his feet and heavier off his racquet, his serve action also much smoother after those early jitters.

One forehand winner, hit on the run as he sprinted towards the right tramline, was struck with such forceful precision that a thunderstruck Djokovic dropped his own racquet in amazement as he watched the ball fly past.

After levelling the match, Alcaraz again forced an early break in the decider as the Djokovic forehand, unreliable throughout by his standards, missed the target a few times too often.

It looked as though the 20-year-old would ease to victory, but Djokovic summoned his customary fighting spirit to break back for 3-3 as Alcaraz tightened up.

Yet just as momentum swung the way of the Serbian, an uncharacteristically loose game — underlined, again, by one errant forehand too many — allowed Alcaraz the chance to serve for the match.

Had this been a grand slam on the line, Djokovic would likely have thrown himself at every shot in the final rallies; as it was, Alcaraz needed only to keep his cool, moving Djokovic from side to side until the older man decided it probably wasn’t worth the chase.

Djokovic was magnanimous in defeat and, again, highlighted the precocious talent of Alcaraz, the man who will undoubtedly prove the biggest threat to Djokovic’s aims of a Golden Slam in 2024: four major titles and Olympic gold in Paris.

This may have been an exhibition match, but it was a useful reminder that, when you put these two either side of a net, something special tends to follow.

Carlos Alcaraz vs. Novak Djokovic result

Set 1 2 3
Carlos Alcaraz 4 6 6
Novak Djokovic 6 4 4

Carlos Alcaraz vs. Novak Djokovic score updates and highlights from Riyadh Season Tennis Cup

Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 4-6 Alcaraz* — ALCARAZ WINS THE MATCH

Alcaraz gets away with one at the net after an underhit drop shot. His backhand is much more solid this time — 30-0. Djokovic comes to the net but he doesn’t cover the gaps properly, and Alcaraz has three match points. He needs only one, blocking a backhand winner down the line!

Djokovic* 6-4, 4-6, 4-5 Alcaraz — ALCARAZ BREAKS

Alcaraz puts a forehand return long, then misses his kick at the ball. It’s not often you see his aim go awry twice in quick succession. However, back-to-back forehand errors from Djokovic gift Alcaraz another break point. He sets up the point well, but the forehand misses again! Alcaraz will serve for the match!

Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 4-4 Alcaraz*

Outstanding point! Alcaraz and Djokovic show their skill and athleticism before the latter puts away a difficult overhead. However, he lets Alcaraz off the hook with a couple of loose shots. It’s 4-4.

Djokovic* 6-4, 4-6, 4-3 Alcaraz

After that battle to break back, Djokovic finds himself 0-30 down. He mixes up a second serve and it pays off, Alcaraz missing the backhand return after expecting a little less pace on the ball. Another big second serve drags the Serbian to 30-30. Alcaraz just can’t cover the court in time to keep a rally alive, and Djokovic, after another missed first serve, gets the benefit of another error. This is a bit of a battle now, and Djokovic has edged in front.

Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 3-3 Alcaraz* — DJOKOVIC BREAKS

Big game! Alcaraz leaps at the net to put away a smash. Djokovic then puts a pretty tentative forehand in the tramlines. Is a forlorn feeling creeping in? You wouldn’t know it from the next return, as he steps in and leaves his opponent no time to settle. Again, a loose forehand is followed by an authoritative one, and Alcaraz hits an unforced error for what feels like the first time in an hour! It’s deuce. A couple more tight forehands follow, and Djokovic has a break point, which is snuffed out by a timely winner from Alcaraz. Excellent Djokovic defence yields another break point, but he can’t take it. Djokovic rushes the net, and an improvised half-volley throws off his opponent. Alcaraz serves, comes for the volley… and it’s in the net! We’re level!

Djokovic* 6-4, 4-6, 2-3 Alcaraz

Djokovic starts with a double fault, but he finds his aim again with a couple of solid first serves. Alcaraz shows his athleticism again to reach a backhand volley and keep the game alive, and then — WOW — he fires down a forehand winner that sees Djokovic drop his racquet in rueful admiration. Djokovic puts too much on a shot at deuce, but he pulls out a big serve at a critical time. A teasing body serve forces the return error, and Djokovic wins the next baseline battle to survive the game.

Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 1-3 Alcaraz*

Alcaraz has raised his level in this last 30 minutes, and Djokovic hasn’t quite followed suit. Maybe that leg really is bothering him (although he hasn’t indicated it’s a problem). There’s a rueful smile as he pushes a forehand a few inches wide at 15-30, but a truly potent pair of forehands sends Alcaraz scrambling in vain. The Spaniard races to the net to win the next point, and holds with a serve-and-volley.

Djokovic* 6-4, 4-6, 1-2 Alcaraz — ALCARAZ BREAKS

The margins are getting finer now. Djokovic can’t quite keep a backhand inside the court, but a serve to the Alcaraz backhand has too much on it. Alcaraz rips another forehand, though, and there’s a sniff of a break; the scent gets a lot stronger as Alcaraz wins another baseline exchange with a superb backhand. Djokovic lands an ace, but some spirited defending ends in a forehand that just sails long. Advantage, Alcaraz.

Djokovic 6-4, 4-6, 1-1 Alcaraz*

Alcaraz gets lucky with a mishit forehand that catches the line. Djokovic is chasing down a few more points now, but he can’t quite reach the latest drop shot. At 40-15, Alcaraz tries a serve-volley approach, and the tactic doesn’t work out for him, either. The subsequent ace does the job.

Djokovic* 6-4, 4-6, 1-0 Alcaraz

Oh, wow! Djokovic thinks he’s played the rally perfectly, and Alcaraz digs out a sensational winner down the line. Djokovic calls on the crowd to appreciate that one. A loose backhand makes it 30-30, but Alcaraz can’t take a presentable chance for a break point. Alcaraz’s half-hearted drop-shot attempt doesn’t clear the net.

Djokovic 6-4, 4-6 Alcaraz* — ALCARAZ WINS SECOND SET

Djokovic was kneading the front of his left leg during the changeover, perhaps just feeling it a little bit after a few weeks of rest. Naturally, he’s still able to stretch to get an almost-certain backhand winner from Alcaraz and send back a slice that wins him the point. Alcaraz follows with a big forehand for 30-15. A powerful serve brings up double set point, and an ace levels the match!

Djokovic* 6-4, 4-5 Alcaraz

Djokovic gets off the mark with the help of a lucky net cord, but there’s nothing fortunate about the exquisite drop volley from Alcaraz that follows. He’s a bit less refined with the backhand slice on the next point, and he’ll have to serve out this set if he wants to level the contest.

Djokovic 6-4, 3-5 Alcaraz*

That’s more like it! Alcaraz comes out on top after the kind of rally we’ve come to expect from these two: full of brutal, accurate hitting. That was a little taste of what we could see should they meet at next month’s Australian Open final. Alcaraz then opens the door to Djokovic with a couple of errors, but a thumping forehand closes it again. It’s 5-3 to the Spaniard in this set.

Djokovic* 6-4, 3-4 Alcaraz

You rather sense these two are taking things a little easier this set: there’s a bit less baseline scrambling and a few more unreturned serves. Djokovic is still serving and volleying at times, and it’s still not always successful, but a mighty forehand ends any possibility of a second break for Alcaraz.

Djokovic 6-4, 2-4 Alcaraz*

Alcaraz starts off with an uncomfortable-looking double fault, although his next two serves are much sharper. He’s giving Djokovic a good workout on serve, keeping his opponent guessing. At 40-0, he lets rip with a Hail Mary of a forehand, which clips the touchline and draws a smile from Djokovic.

Djokovic* 6-4, 2-3 Alcaraz

Alcaraz somehow blocks back a volley after a chip-and-charge, but Djokovic gets enough on it to make the return impossible. The world no.1 rattles through the next two points for another comfortable hold.

Djokovic 6-4, 1-3 Alcaraz*

Imperious stuff on serve from Alcaraz, who doesn’t give Djokovic a sniff this time.

Djokovic* 6-4, 1-2 Alcaraz

There are a fair few misses from either side of the net, which is probably a case of these two shaking off a little rust. There’s still plenty to admire in the exchanges, not least an Alcaraz passing shot here that has Djokovic sprawling. He very nearly produces an unreal winner when scampering across the baseline, but Djokovic just digs out a volley. The Serbian is a little casual with a passing shot at deuce, but he holds in the end.

Djokovic 6-4, 0-2 Alcaraz*

There’s the first Alcaraz drop shot of the match! With Djokovic stuck on the baseline, he can’t get anywhere near it. Then, on the very next point, Djokovic fires back a thunderbolt of a return that nearly knocks his opponent off his feet; he then spins to the crowd and pumps a fist. A rare error from Djokovic gives up the game.

Djokovic* 6-4, 0-1 Alcaraz — ALCARAZ BREAKS

A quick response from Alcaraz, who regains some composure off his ground strokes to make it 15-30. Djokovic winds up a big forehand but it’s way too heavy. Alcaraz breaks at the first time of asking, just as he did in the opening set!

Djokovic 6-4 Alcaraz* — DJOKOVIC BREAKS, WINS FIRST SET

Djokovic has been pinpoint with his backhand in this first set. There’s a spring in his step as he settles for a second serve and crushes a return winner for 0-30. He then wins the set without even playing another shot: Alcaraz, feeling the pressure, goes for some extra bite in his serve and ends up with back-to-back double faults. It’s a poor way to give up a set, but Djokovic upped his game to force those mistakes.

Djokovic* 5-4 Alcaraz

It’s not often you get to a ninth game of a match before a double fault! It makes little difference, though, as Djokovic’s serving has otherwise been excellent. Another comfortable hold, and he’s a game away from the set.

Djokovic 4-4 Alcaraz*

With the new balls in play, Alcaraz overhits a forehand but makes amends with a wicked serve. Three more follow, and it’s a comfortable hold for the world no. 2.

Djokovic* 4-3 Alcaraz

Terrific from Alcaraz to take control of a rally and put away a forehand down the line, and then to find the gap off the other wing as Djokovic came to the net. A big return forces an error, and it’s three break points for the Spaniard. On the second, he gets a look at a second serve, but his forehand is tense and doesn’t clear the net. Djokovic makes no such mistake to get to deuce, and then — oh, goodness me! Djokovic hits a drop volley from the edge of the service box, and it’s perfect! Brilliant tennis from 0-40 down.

Djokovic 3-3 Alcaraz*

Djokovic reads a second serve down the tee and slaps away a forehand winner for 0-30. A net cord helps Alcaraz, then a truly sublime volley off a powerful Djokovic return makes it 30-30. The Serbian salutes the winner. A rather careless backhand then lets Alcaraz off the hook.

Djokovic* 3-2 Alcaraz

Alcaraz winds up a topspin passing shot, which just loops wide. That was dipping like a knuckleball free-kick! Djokovic eases through the game from there to take the lead for the first time.

Djokovic 2-2 Alcaraz* — DJOKOVIC BREAKS

Alcaraz slaps a forehand into the net for 0-30, then Djokovic goes long with a fairly simple forehand. It’s a loose start to this game after the change of ends. Alcaraz returns the favour, and gives up two break points. Alcaraz skids a serve out wide, and Djokovic blasts back a cross-court winner off the forehand! Superb.

Djokovic* 1-2 Alcaraz

A much simpler hold to love. Djokovic has tried a few serve-volleys early on here. Is he mixing things up to give Alcaraz some food for thought before the season proper starts?

Djokovic 0-2 Alcaraz*

A super lob sees Alcaraz win a fifth point in a row. Make that six… and then, suddenly, Djokovic finds his length, winning a baseline exchange before crashing a jumping backhand down the line. Alcaraz goes long when off balance, but a big serve wards off the break. Djokovic somehow keeps a point alive and then rushes the net to put off his opponent, who grins as he puts away the overhead. They’re both enjoying this. Alcaraz gets through in the end to hold.

Djokovic* 0-1 Alcaraz — ALCARAZ BREAKS

The first serve of the match is unreturned. Djokovic nets a volley after the second, and Alcaraz clips the line with a looping forehand for 15-30. Djokovic smiles as he sees the replay. Alcaraz forces the forehand error for two break points, and he puts away a backhand volley on the second!

Here we go!

Alcaraz won the toss and elected to receive serve first.

Warmup: Alcaraz is first to make the winding walk from the bowels of the arena onto the court. Then comes Djokovic, to even louder cheers. The two are now warming up.

Start is eight minutes away: The Saudi Arabian national anthem plays after the introduction of dignitaries. The announcement is that the start of this match is eight minutes from now. We should be moments away from getting the players on court.

Start? I think I was a little premature with the times: we’re now around 20 minutes after the scheduled start time and there’s no sign yet of these two on the court. Play will likely start in around 20 minutes’ time.

10 mins until start: There’s a decent-sized crowd now in situ for the start of the match. It’s hard to know exactly what sort of standard these two will play to today, given this is essentially a warm-up for 2024, but let’s hope we get a quality exchanges.

30 mins until start: This will be only the sixth time Alcaraz and Djokovic have played against each other and it’s the latter who holds the slight psychological advantage.

The head-to-head record between these two is quite nicely balanced: Djokovic has three wins, and Alcaraz two. Alcaraz accepted he had been comprehensively outplayed in the straight-sets defeat to his opponent at the ATP Finals last month so will be looking to level the scores and put on a show for his fans in Riyadh today.

Many will be expecting these two to meet at the latter stages of the Australian Open next month and it’s Alcaraz who emerged victorious in their last Grand Slam meeting, following his first Wimbledon triumph in the summer.

1 hour until start: The Riyadh Season Tennis Cup actually consists of two matches, with world No.2 Aryna Sabelenka playing Ons Jabeur yesterday.

The Belarusian beat world No.6 Jabeur 6-4 3-6 2-6 to exact a small bit of revenge on the Tunisian for dumping her out of Wimbledon earlier this year.

Novak Djokovic ATP Finals 2023

(Getty Images)

90 mins until start: So what is the Riyadh Season Tennis Cup? The Riyadh Tennis Cup is a part of the Riyadh Season, which happens in the Saudi Arabian capital each year.

It’s a huge event that takes place over months and this season featured the heavyweight boxing tilt between Tyson Fury and Francis Ngannou back in late October. As well as sporting events, the festival also offers concerts and other unique cultural events to the thousands of visitors who travel from around the world each year.

2 hours until start: Hello, and welcome to our live coverage of today’s Riyadh Season Tennis Cup match between Carlos Alcaraz and Novak Djokovic. 

Just two days after Christmas and the world’s best two male tennis players will be hoping any extra turkey indulged in over the festive period doesn’t impact their game in Saudi Arabia! This may be just a an exhibition match but training for the Australia Open next month is well underway.

When is the Riyadh Season Tennis Cup? Alcaraz vs. Djokovic start time 

This year, the Riyadh Tennis Cup will take place from December 26 to 27 and will see some of the world’s most famous tennis stars battle it out. 

The men’s match, on December 27, features the two current best players in the world face off as Djokovic and Alcaraz renew their new found rivalry, just a month on from their ATP Finals matchup.

The day before, December 26, Sabalenka, take on popular Tunisian star, Ons Jabeur.

Today’s match takes place at the Kingdom Arena, which has a capacity for 40,000 fans.

Here is the expected start time for Alcaraz vs. Djokovic around the world: 

  Date Start time
USA Weds. Dec 27 10.45 a.m. ET
Canada Weds. Dec 27 10.45 a.m. ET
UK Weds. Dec 27 3.45 p.m. GMT
Australia Thurs. Dec 28 2.45 a.m. AEST
India Weds. Dec 27 9.15 p.m. IST


MORE: Australian Open 2024 details: When it starts & who is competing

Riyadh Season Tennis Cup 2023 live stream, TV channel

The tournament will be streamed exclusively by DAZN around the world:

  TV channel Streaming
USA  — DAZN
Canada  — DAZN
UK DAZN 1 DAZN
Australia  — DAZN
India  — DAZN
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Carlos Alcaraz vs Novak Djokovic live score, updates, highlights & result from Riyadh Season Tennis Cup

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