The two Spaniards at the top of tennis have similarities, but also differences. “Both were already impressive in their childhood stage,” recalls Juan Bautista Avendao
Between the two images, that of the brand-new champion of the United States Open and that of the young man who won at Roland Garros in 2005, the first of his 22 Grand Slam titles, 17 years, four months and seven days have passed. Carlos Alcaraz reached the summit at the age of 19, four months and one week. Rafael Nadal, 19 years and two days old. The Murcian is already number 1 in the world. The Mallorcan debuted at the top of the ranking more than three years after that victory, on August 18, 2008.
Almost at the dawn of the millennium, the context of tennis was different. Roger Federer had established himself as the great dominator of the competition. He was already the champion of Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the US Open. Despite being his debut in the tournament, Nadal broke in with good prospects. Not surprisingly, he had just won in Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome, the latter tournament after starring in an unforgettable final against Guillermo Coria. In Paris he knocked out Federer in the semi-finals and won the final over Mariano Puerta.
I saw Nadal for the first time at the Manuel Alonso, the Spanish Children’s Championship, in Vic, and he was already impressive with his attitude, with his desire. Let’s say he did the same as now but at 12 years old. The same thing happened not so long ago, when Alcaraz played the tournament in the City of the Racquet. He was a kid and everyone already wanted to see himJuan Bautista Avendao, a member of the Davis Cup captains team in 2004, comments to this newspaper, when Nadal surprised with his victory in the final against the United States, against Andy Roddick.
Alcaraz is a player with extraordinary resources, whose proposal his rivals will have to find a reply to. Unlike Nadal, who grew up to be able to face Federer and later Djokovic, the tennis player from El Palmar shows a natural exuberance. He has taken the lead and is already the reference.
technique and learning
Technically I have the feeling that he is better than Nadal at his age. The Mallorcan progressed as they won it, points out Jordi Arrese, also a member of that team of Davis Cup captains along with José Perlas and Avendao.
The Murcian threatens to devour the generation of men like Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev, who have already spent a few seasons on the circuit without the prize of a major. Nadal started out as a clay court specialist that he grew up on other surfaces because he knew otherwise he wouldn’t have a chance in Australia, Wimbledon and New York. He has worked hard to be more aggressive and standardize his game in any scenario. Alcaraz also grew up on clay, but he already has the ways to successfully function quickly, as he has shown, analyzes Avendao.
Being very different in their conception of the game, they share an enormous mental strength and a great commitment to tennis from a young age. Like Nadal, Alcaraz is also convinced of what he is capable of. He puts pressure on himself with his own statements, a symptom of his mighty head. He has a lot of self-confidence and is very outgoing, says Arrese.
There is an added factor in the Murcian’s style, whose creativity makes him one of the most attractive men in the game. We are facing a renovator, one of the few that proposes different things and sets trends. Never in my life have I seen so many drop shots as last week in a tournament at the La Alameda Tennis Club. He has brought back into fashion a blow that was no longer used as much. And also on a hard court, where the risks are much greater than on clay, says Avendao, today manager of the Madrid Tennis Federation.
Both Avendao and Arrese envision an immediate future in which Nadal will still have a lot to say. Not in vain, at 36 years old, he has won the Australian Open and Roland Garros this season and went as far as the Wimbledon semifinals, which he was unable to play due to injury. Without much less detracting from the incredible tournament that he has done Alcaraz, we must not forget that Djokovic and Zverev were missing, and that Nadal was not short of games. Rafa and Absent they are still there, and I think Zverev, Medvedev and even Kyrgios will have something to say, says Eurosport commentator Arrese.
Not long ago we were afraid of running out of players in the lite. Now, in addition to Rafa, there is Carlos. Both generate illusion among the kids, you see very motivated children. Nadal still has it left and with Carlos I think we are guaranteed at least 15 years at a high level, concludes Avendao.
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