His name is not Jack and he is not English, yet his life already resembles a tale in which he is the hero hunting giants. But Carlos Alcaraz does not plant magic beans. He eats them. Like Son Goku. And that’s probably what explains why he gives, in sequences, the impression of being a real tennis Super Saiyan on the court. In Madrid, the kid from El Palmar has, in sequence, walked on the titans Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Without ever overplaying. Admittedly, the Spaniard and the Serb, for different reasons, are still looking for their respective best levels. But beating these two monsters, whatever the context, is never trivial. Moreover, the nicknamed “Carlitos”, 19 years old since May 5, is the first in history to be able to boast of such a feat during the same tournament on clay.
Two years after its first steps on the main circuit, Alcaraz is already panicking the counters with more than one telling statistic. So much so that the hands of it seem to turn faster than those of time. And the guy has the ambition to make us even more dizzy in the weeks and months to come. “My goal this year is to win a Grand Slam (title), and I hope it will be in Paris”, he confided during an interview published by Marca on Tuesday. “I would say yes, I am ready to compete with them (Nadal and Djokovic) in any tournament, on any surfacehe had replied at a press conference three days earlier, after his victories against Nadal and Djokovic in Madrid. In Grand Slam, it’s completely different, it’s in three winning sets. If they (Nadal and Djokovic) have been winning for so long in Majors, it is because, mentally, they are not made of the same wood as the others. But I think I’m ready.”
“Right now he (Carlos Alcaraz) is the best in the world” – Novak Djokovic
Pretentious, some would say. Those who follow tennis from afar, or who see openly asserted ambition as a dirty word. But by the physical, emotional and mental maturity that he demonstrates week after week as well as his complete palette – power, touch, volleys, defense, speed – the artist seems able to draw a first Grand Slam triumph from Roland- Garros. “You are the best player in the world right now, Alexander Zverev told him during the award ceremony in Castileafter being beaten 6/3 6/1 in 1h02 by the prodigy. You beat us all, when you are 5 years old. You are a superstar who will win many Grand Slam titles and become number 1 in the world.” Remarks corroborated by the current master of the ATP ranking a few days later.
“He (Alcaraz) is definitely specialNovak Djokovic confirmed to reporters in Rome on Monday. He breaks many precocity records, he has already won two Masters 1000 this year (Miami and Madrid). Currently, he is the best player in the world, without a doubt. The way he handled the pressure during our game (in Madrid), the calm he kept, it was impressive. Everything about his game is impressive. It is really complete. He can play both offensively and defensively. He’s the one everyone is talking about. It’s great for tennis to have someone so young and daring enough to challenge the best in the world and claim the most important trophies. And at the same time, he is humble and very pleasant off the court. I wish him the best. He is definitely one of the main favorites for Roland-Garros.”
In the Open era, only seven men have won a Grand Slam title before their 20s
Many agree, Juan Carlos Ferrero’s protege already has all the strings to his bow to aim for a Grand Slam title. But the target, although accessible as the bugger is amazing, is still far away. To hit the bullseye this season would be a feat almost out of another era. In the history of tennis, few can boast of having won a Major before 20 years for men. Since 1968 and the beginning of the Open era, there are only seven. The latest? Nadal, on the ocher of the Porte d’Auteuil, 17 years back. Before the left-hander from the Balearic Islands, to find traces of such a phenomenon of precocity, we must go back to Pete Sampras in 1990.
- Michael Chang – Roland-Garros 1989, at 17 years, 3 months and 7 days
- Boris Becker – Wimbledon 1985, at 17 years, 7 months, and 2 days / Wimbledon 1986, at 18 years, 7 months and 1 day
- Mats Wilander – Roland-Garros 1982, at 17 years, 9 months and 2 days / Roland-Garros 1983, at 19 years, 3 months and 7 days
- Björn Borg – Roland-Garros 1974, at 17 years, 11 months and 27 days / Roland-Garros 1975, at 18 years, 11 months and 28 days
- Rafael Nadal – Roland-Garros 2005, at 18 years, 11 months and 2 days / Roland-Garros 2006, at 19 years, 11 months and 2 days
- Pete Sampras – US Open 1990, at 19 years and 15 days
- Stefan Edberg – Australian Open 1985, at 19 years, 10 months and 6 days
For comparison, Djokovic won the first of his 20 grails at just over 20 and a half springs; Federer shortly before his 22nd birthday. Moreover, since Roland-Garros 2005, where Nadal began his collection of 21 Majors, only four men who are not members of the Big 3 have succeeded in winning this category of tournament: Murray and Wawrinka, three times each, del Potro, Thiem. The goal set by Carlos Alcaraz is therefore colossal. And again, that’s an understatement. But, stealing his 19 broomsticks, the new enchanter bewitches the world of tennis to the point of being legitimately perceived as capable of pulling off such a spell. The hunt for giants is launched, and it is done with magic rackets.
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Carlos Alcaraz: “My goal this year is to win a Grand Slam title” | We Are Tennis
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