Carlos Alcaraz has won back-to-back titles in Barcelona and Madrid before his Rome debut

Rome (AFP) - Carlos Alcaraz said Friday that he is in good shape ahead of his first ever match in the Italian Open, an all-Spanish clash with Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Flamboyant Alcaraz comes into the clay court tournament with back-to-back titles in Barcelona and Madrid and is set to replace Novak Djokovic as world number one.

The 20-year-old only has to play Friday’s match against Ramos-Vinolas in Rome to reclaim top spot in the rankings ahead of the French Open which starts later this month.

Friday’s match will be his debut in the Italian capital, a tournament which is a strong indicator of form for Roland Garros.

“I’m feeling very good, I have trained a couple of times, yesterday with Juanqui (Ferrero), today with Stefanos (Tsitsipas), and I felt pretty good as I’m hitting the ball well,” Alcaraz told reporters.

“The conditions are different and it is my first time in Rome. I wasn’t sure what it was going to be like, but the early sensations have been good.”

This week’s tournament is the first this season in which Alcaraz and top seed Djokovic are both playing, with the pair in opposite sides of the draw.

Djokovic has had a tough start to the European clay-court season, being eliminated in the last 16 at the Monte Carlo Masters, in the quarter-finals at Banja Luka and then pulling out of Madrid with his elbow problem.

He begins his campaign in Rome, where he has won six times and been in 12 finals, against Argentina’s Tomas Etcheverry later on Friday.

“Being in the same tournament as Novak is great, having him here and learning from him. It’s always good having the best tennis players in the world in the tournament, it’s great,” said Alcaraz.

“I hope to meet him in the final. Yeah, I always say that as a tennis fan I always want to see the best players in the world, to watch them, learn from them, because you have to learn from everyone.”