Phenomenon Carlos Alcaraz – what lies behind the violent rise of the teenager from Spain

What a statement.

“I was taught from an early age that finals are not played but won,” Carlos Alcaraz declared after beating compatriot Pablo Carreño Busta 6-3, 6-2 in the Barcelona final in just 65 minutes.
Umag last year, Rio de Janeiro, Miami and Barcelona this season – the 18-year-old was in the final of an ATP competition four times and won four times. It was no different at Milan’s Next Gen Finals last November. Alcaraz reached the final – and won the title.

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An incredible achievement for a teenager who once again wrote tennis history this week. As the youngest top ten professional since Rafael Nadal, who for the first time 17 years earlier had entered the top ten in the world rankings.

Third tournament win of the year: Alcaraz sweeps over Carreño Busta

Alcaraz is now number nine on the ATP rankings, twelve months ago he was in place 120, two years ago in place 310. A meteoric rise that shows how consistently the Spaniard plays at a young age.

He has also acquired a successful promotion ritual: Before each match, the super talent listens to the soundtrack to the famous Rocky movie series. “It motivates me. When I hear this music, I remember the movie and Rocky’s great fighting spirit. I try to take that experience into every single game,” Alcaraz said.

Alcaraz: Fantastic parallels to Nadal

The young professional also borrows in the form of fighting spirit and class elsewhere: from his idol Nadal. Alcaraz has repeatedly emphasized the great role model the record Grand Slam champion holds for him. And in fact, astonishing parallels are emerging.

Rafael Nadal (left) and Carlos Alcaraz met for the first time in the second round of the Madrid Masters 2021

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Alcaraz feels most comfortable on sand, his forehand is the strongest weapon he describes the French Open in Paris as his favorite tournament. Both already showed a playful intelligence as teenagers, which is remarkable. And there are similarities off the field, too. Like Nadal, Alcaraz crosses fingers for Real Madrid footballers and has a soft spot for golf. Almost creepy.

Sometimes he even has something in front of his idol. Alcaraz only needed 70 matches on the ATP Tour to win 50. A record. Nadal had reached the goal after 81 matches, Juan Carlos Ferrero after 73. The latter, Roland Garros’ winner in 2003 and once the world number one, is now one of the most important factors in the youngster’s success as a coach.

What Ferrero does not like: comparing his protégé with Nadal. “He wants me to focus on myself, on Carlos Alcaraz, and not try to be someone else. That advice helped me a lot,” Alcaraz told Eurosport. There is no doubt about how important Ferrero is to the development of his protégé.

Alcaraz: “There is no limit for me”

“Juan Carlos can tell me how hard it is and how much you have to sacrifice to become number one. I think I’m on the right track,” Alcaraz praised his coach in Barcelona – making it clear, by the way, where the goals lie. He “dreams big”, stressed the shooting star some time ago. He aims for Grand Slam titles, Olympic medals and jumps to the top of the rankings. “There’s no limit to me. I want to keep playing at the level I’m at.”

Corretja very impressed by Alcaraz: “Almost a miracle”

Alcaraz does not come with such messages with the habitus of a show-off, he always seems reserved despite his self-confidence. “Carlos is still humble and passionate,” former tennis star Mats Wilander told Eurosport. Alcaraz has “the whole package”.

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Chris Evert sees “the quality of a champion” in the offensive statements of the Spanish talent, because: “If he was in doubt, it would prevent him from winning a Grand Slam event. All great champions – I think of one Federer, a Nadal, a Navratilova, a Graf – must have this faith, “explained the 18-time Grand Slam tournament winner Exclusive interview with Eurosport. The self-confidence of Alcaraz is “innate and is in itself”.

Becker warns Alcaraz: avoid this mistake

Boris Becker believes there is only one mistake he should not make now. “The train season is exhausting, the fights are longer,” the 54-year-old warned in the Eurosport podcast Das Gelbe vom Ball. He therefore hopes that Alcaraz will not play “Monte Carlo, Barcelona, ​​Madrid and Rome”, “because then it will be too much for my taste”. In addition to stress and possibly weaker outcomes, there is still a more serious danger. “If you keep playing tired, the first injuries come. That’s why it’s very important to find the fine line.”

To do this, Alcaraz must learn to deal with the steadily growing popularity and high expectations from outside – the co-favorite of keywords at the French Open. The teenager seems reasonably aware of what to expect. But he is not worried, as his statements in Barcelona show. “I’m not afraid of fame, and I’m not going to change who I am.”

Another strong Alcaraz statement.

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