Roland Garros | The next Big Three is called Carlos Alcaraz

He has everything. A bit of Nadal, a bit of Federer and a bit of Djokovic. Carlos Alcaraz has the tennis world at his fingertips. Above all, he has all the time in the world ahead of him. Like when Simba was introduced by Rafiki, the new king is now known and respected by all. At 19, the heir is already making his way to the throne.

Posted at 7:00 a.m.

Nicholas Richard

Nicholas Richard
The Press

It is enough to pay attention to a single point or a single exchange of Alcaraz to be impressed and seduced. Tennis has a new face and it’s his. A teenage face who already has to live with a ton of pressure, because with great power comes great responsibility.

Like Spider-Man, the young Spaniard must learn to negotiate every day with his innate gifts, this gift from heaven that he must deploy today and which has served him so well until now.

Alcaraz has been the phenomenon everyone has been talking about on the ATP Tour since the beginning of spring. His talent is gargantuan and his destiny is unpredictable, but limitless.

He celebrated his 19and birthday on May 5th. The next day, he offered himself Rafael Nadal, in three rounds, at home, in the quarter-finals of the Madrid tournament, under the watchful eye of the King of Spain. ” I can not complain. To have someone like him, from my country, who accomplishes so many things […] Nadal explained after his defeat.


PHOTO JUAN MEDINA, REUTERS ARCHIVES

Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal

The next day, he made history by defeating Novak Djokovic. Here are 41 Grand Slams passed in the twister. He became the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic in the same tournament, on clay. “He’s got his emotions under control very well. Despite his age, he plays very maturely. He is brave, he is impressive. He deserved to win,” the world number one revealed after the match.

He concluded his week in Spain with a convincing and unequivocal victory against Alexander Zverev. “Currently, you are the best player in the world. It’s great for tennis to have a new star who is going to win lots of Grand Slams and who is going to be number one, ”said the German towards Alcaraz during the post-match ceremony.

This was his 4and title this season, after those of Barcelona, ​​Miami and Rio. A year ago it was 94and in the world ranking. Today it is at 6and rank and is one of the most serious contenders to win the Roland-Garros tournament.

“He’s new, he’s young and all new things are much more interesting than old things,” Nadal once said of his compatriot.

The child who learned

It was clear that the golden generation made up of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic was going to have babies. It was inevitable.

The new guard players have grown up watching these tenors of tennis. Daniil Medvedev, Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas all learned how to play watching these three giants. However, of the lot, it was Alcaraz that best assimilated the standards imposed by the Big Three. He managed to take inspiration from their game and get the best out of each of them for his personal benefit.

The comparisons with Nadal are obvious. Both are Spanish, prodigies on clay and they have the same desire to win. However, to reduce the analysis of his game by comparing him only to Nadal would be simplistic, even reductive.


PHOTO JAVIER SORIANO, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE ARCHIVES

Carlos Alcaraz, during his final match against Alexander Zverev at the Madrid tournament

Alcaraz has the passion, the character, the aggressiveness, the power and the explosiveness of Nadal. On the other hand, he also has the fluidity, precision, footwork, variety of shots and vision of Federer. He also has Djokovic’s stamina, fitness, backcourt play, defense and flexibility.

Put all of these together and you’ll have something like a great gamer. Something like Carlos Alcaraz.

A unique destiny

Alcaraz started playing tennis at the age of 4, thanks to his father. Since then, his life has been a rolling fire.

He has worked for more than four years with Juan Carlos Ferrero, former world number one and winner of Roland-Garros. “He goes out there and he thinks he can win no matter who he’s playing against. Which is a very good thing. […] He is very dynamic and he can play on all surfaces, ”he said during an interview with the ATP in 2021.

In January 2020, Alcaraz had the chance to be Rafael Nadal’s training partner before the Australian Open. Nadal said of this young stranger that he was “really good” and that he had “everything he [fallait] to succeed “.

He made the jump to the ATP circuit in February 2020 in Rio de Janeiro. At the end of the season, he was crowned rookie of the year.

At the start of the 2021 season, his goal was to finish the year among the top 50 players in the world.

In March 2021, after a match against Zverev in Acapulco, the German also predicted a bright future for the Spaniard: “He is 17 and everyone is talking about him. He plays amazing tennis. I think he’s going to be in the top 10 by 2024.”

He won his first title in Croatia a few months later, in July. Then, he reached the quarter-finals at the US Open in September, breaking a plethora of records and setting several marks for an 18-year-old on his Grand Slam debut.

He ended the season by winning the NextGen tournament, reserved for the best players aged 22 and under. He finally ended the year at 32and world rank.

Roland-Garros is his favorite tournament. He is not shy about it. Carlos Alcaraz has two wishes and he doesn’t hide it either: to become world number one and to win a Grand Slam. The first will be difficult to achieve this year, but the second is realistic. The scene would be sublime, at the Porte d’Auteuil. To see a new champion win in their new home, because now the world is theirs.

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