Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz talks about the tour – even in his absence | Tennis

Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz talks about the tour – even in his absence | Tennis

AA good indication of the extent of the discussion sparked by Carlos Alcaraz’s rise came during Rafael Nadal’s pre-tournament press conference at the Italian Open on Monday. Suspicious of how often Nadal has already had to discuss his young compatriot in recent months, a reporter introduced his question by expressing his hope that Nadal wouldn’t be bored with further Alcaraz discussions to come. “I will never be bored answering questions about my colleague,” Nadal replied.

Alcaraz will not be seen in Rome this year. Shortly after his breathless triumph over Alexander Zverev in the Madrid Open final on Sunday, he announced he would be withdrawing from the tournament in order to recuperate before the start of the French Open. Yet his rise has been the defining story of the past two months and his success will continue to hang over the tour until the start of Roland-Garros.

“He’s definitely special,” said Novak Djokovic, who lost to Alcaraz in the semi-finals in Madrid. “I mean, he’s already breaking a lot of records as a teenager, winning two Masters events this year, some 500. So far he’s the best player in the world, without a doubt, this year with the results that ‘he got.”

So far this year, Alcaraz has compiled an absurd 28-3 (90%) record, winning four titles in as many months, including two Masters 1000 victories in Miami and Madrid and two ATP 500 events. been clinical against the best, winning eight of their last nine games against the top 10 players.

While he was already well above the curve when he was ranked 120th in May 2021, he is now sixth in the ATP rankings and second in the ATP race. The respect he has already earned was shown by Nadal’s lack of surprise at Alcaraz’s success. “No reaction,” said Nadal, defeated by Alcaraz in the round to Djokovic last week. “Nothing new in my opinion, right? He has already won in Miami, won in Barcelona. Frankly, it’s not a big surprise. Happy for him. Everyone knows the level of confidence they have right now, the level they can reach.

The statistics, as spectacular as they are, only tell part of the story of Alcaraz this year. He arrived on the circuit with an already nearly complete game and a full toolbox of shots, with each new tournament seemingly bringing out his talent and drive a little more.

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz can shoot both ways. Photo: Xinhua/REX/Shutterstock

In his first full season as a top-100 player, Alcaraz is already, arguably, the fastest player on the league and his athleticism has earned him so many points from daring defensive positions. He pairs his defense with a brutal, heavy shot from both wings. He is already one of the best returners in the world and his confidence at the net is startling. Despite all that, his defining shot was that delicate forehand drop shot, which he has daringly fired off big points throughout this year, and which contrasts so well with his nuclear-powered forehand.

“I think it’s amazing what he’s doing right now,” said Emma Raducanu. “Being so young and so consistent is really impressive. I think the way he moves is really graceful and elegant. If you look at him, he looks like he’s flying through the air. He’s super aggressive, he can just pull off the racket from someone’s hands.

The Madrid Open final itself showed how much things have changed since the first major title of the year. In front of Alcaraz stood Zverev, the player who for so long was considered the main talent of the younger generation from the age of 16. Zverev has certainly had a great career, but on Sunday he was dismantled and the gap between their levels was stark.

While Zverev had reason to be frustrated with Madrid’s poor schedule, his second serve and crashing forehand in the important moments has been a continuing theme in his career. Other well-publicized players of his generation were limited by poor returns, insufficient variety, or a blatantly weaker groundstroke.

By comparison, Alcaraz’s game is fortified so well, with his serving accuracy his only real technical weak point. With such a strong base, he effortlessly established himself as a Grand Slam threat at just 19 years old. next French Open. However, while he rests, Nadal and Djokovic will be working in Rome to win enough games and progress enough to meet him at the top of his game in Paris.

On Monday in Rome, Stan Wawrinka won his first game in more than a year after returning from two foot surgeries earlier in the clay-court season. The 37-year-old, the only player other than Nadal or Djokovic to win the title at Roland Garros in the past 12 years, picked up an excellent 3-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over the No.17 ​​Reilly Opelka. . Dan Evans was beaten 7-6(2), 6-2 in the first round by Nikoloz Basilashvili.

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