Carlos Alcaraz, the tennis future and present, rolled into one

Birthday celebrations usually signify one’s age. For Carlos Alcaraz, they outline his growth. The Spaniard celebrated his 16th birthday after losing in the opening qualifying round for the 2019 Barcelona Open. He turned 18 last year singing to him with the crowd at the Manolo Santana Stadium, but Rafael Nadal suffered a 6-1, 6-2 loss in the second round of the Madrid Open.

After defeating Cameron Nori to make the quarterfinals, he danced on his 19th inside the same court on Thursday. The next day, he went out to defeat Nadal. Novak Djokovic the next day.

Give presents to the child in advance. 1 Djokovic 6-7(5), 7-5, 7-6(5) in a three-hour 35-minute clash in the Madrid Open semi-finals, if not to do so after barely 24 hours. Nadal 6-2, 1-6, 6-3. If not for being the first player to beat two legends in the same clay-court tournament, then for being the youngest on that list across all surfaces and tournaments. If not for securing a first ATP Masters title this season, then for breaking into the top 10 of the world rankings at 18 two weeks ago.

It wasn’t too long ago that Alcaraz – armed with a high-quality game and flair that belies his age – was tipped as the Next Big Thing in men’s tennis. Erase that next.

His rise is as fast as it is amazing. Alkaraz had not played an ATP level match till two years back. In 2019, he was competing in the lower-ranked ATP Challenger and ITF Tours, finishing the year at 492nd. Twelve months later, the young talent reached the top 150. Then came the big press that catapulted him into the elite.

After a semi-final at the ATP 250 Marbella in April last year, Alcarz won his first ATP title in July in Umag, moving him closer to a top-50 spot. Kishor, however, was already busy cracking down on top-10 players. He defeated third-placed Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets in the US Open round of 32 and seventh-ranked Matteo Berrettini in the Vienna Open quarterfinals. Alcaraz ended the season as world number 32 and the champion of the Next Gen ATP Finals. Erase that next.

This season, Alcarz has carried on at an even more breathtaking pace. He won his first ATP Masters 1000 crown on the hard courts of the Miami Open last month and went on to go with the titles in Rio and Barcelona, ​​adding world No. 1 and 4 to his list in Madrid with his number of top-10 victories. extended. He became the youngest person to break into the top 10 last month since Nadal 17 years ago.

The similarities and comparisons with his Spanish idol are natural, given Alcaraz’s early success on the red dirt and his forehand hobby. However, for their age, Alcarz’s service is very fast. Their power game is lethal on both sides, which Nadal and Djokovic experienced in their defeat. It takes something special to out-hit the two most effective baseliners in the history of the game on clay. Alcaraz recorded 19 wins in the first set against Nadal and 51 in the match against Djokovic, who scored 24 runs. Add to that your clever drop shots, which shattered the Serb at several key points, and it’s a developing all-round game that can be won by any top player on any surface.

Coached by former Spanish No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, Alcarz showed he had the game and flair, promising to deliver great things in the future. What has changed is the mindset of that youth to stay connected there. Not in the future, now.

“I think I have grown a lot as a player, as a person (too),” Alcarz said in Madrid. “Last year I came here to live such matches, to gain some experience, to be able to level myself against the best players in the world. Now, I consider myself one of them.”

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