Tennis Championship: Carlos Alcaraz, 19, is swiftly becoming the next big thing in men’s tennis, being tipped as the natural successor to Rafael Nadal, the “King of Clay.” Is he really that good?
With every stroke in the book and the mentality to match, this is a guy who already has the tennis world at his feet and appears to be a fixture at the top of the sport for years to come.
In 2022, he has already won four titles, including the Master’s events in Miami and Madrid, where he defeated the illustrious duo of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic before defeating Alexander Zverev in back-to-back matches.
Alcaraz, a native of Murcia, turned professional in 2018 and soon established himself as a significant prospect under the supervision of former world No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Alcaraz already possesses a complete game, with powerful groundstrokes and the best drop shot in the game, but his maturity on and off the court is what stands out the most for a player his age.
His finest Grand Slam performance so far came in the quarterfinals of the US Open last year, but he is widely regarded as the most likely challenger to Nadal and Djokovic for the Coupe Des Mousquetaires.
Alcaraz is open about his ambitions, telling Marca in an interview: “My goal for the rest of the year is to win one of the three Grand Slams that remain. It provides me with immense drive, and I will battle for it.”
Although Nadal is not yet ready to hand the baton, he has warmed up to the future of Spanish tennis and wrapped his arm around Alcaraz, not just to encourage him but also to shield him from the media circus.
“If he’s able to win 25 Grand Slams, it’s going to be amazing for him and for our country, and I’ll be happy for him. But let him enjoy his personal career,” Nadal warned. “Don’t put extra pressure on him.”
‘The tale of men’s tennis’ is Alcaraz
Djokovic sees Nadal and Alcaraz as his major competitors in his quest for a record-tying 21st Grand Slam title.
“We talk about favourites for Roland Garros and clay, you know that Nadal always has to be right at the top, because of his records, particularly in this tournament,” said Djokovic, competing in a Grand Slam for the first time since his exile from the Australian Open.
“And then you have Alcaraz, he obviously is the story of men’s tennis in the last four or five months with a big reason.
“He’s had some tremendous leaps forward on rankings and the results that he’s been achieving are phenomenal for someone of his age. He has made a quantum jump really forward in the last five, six months.”
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