Carlos Alcaraz on his way to becoming a legend at the age of 19: why the shooting star is even better now

“Carlos is going to be one of the best players in history and I didn’t realize that when he won the US Open last year.” The sentence comes from seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander, one of the best experts on the scene.

After his outstanding 2022 season, Alcaraz managed to take the next step towards becoming a tennis icon.

It can be described as presumptuous to associate such attributes with a 19-year-old, but that is exactly Alcaraz’ goal.

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“It may sound crazy, but I want to be like the ‘Big 3’. For me, the big challenge is to be among the best in history,” Alcaraz made no secret of his dreams in Miami.

Alcaraz inspires Spain: Clear goals, great image

The remarkable thing is that nobody would think of taking the top talent for a talker or accusing him of megalomania. Alcaraz’ appearance off the field is modest, but he formulates his goals razor-sharp.

17th victory in the 18th match – highlights of the Alcaraz victory in the round of 16

The tennis pro arrives in his home country with his style. “The public image couldn’t be better. He’s young, daring and respectful at the same time, always with a smile on his face. He likes to call himself Carlitos instead of Carlos because he says Carlos is very serious for a young man like him – which makes him very likeable,” explained the tennis expert Enrique Sánchez von Eurosport in Madrid.

In addition, Alcaraz is the “flagship” of his native region of Murcia in southeastern Spain. He also masters the game with social media.

Comparison with Nadal? Don’t like Alcaraz

Only one thing bothers the young athlete a little: the comparison with Rafael Nadal. “Both have said that they don’t want and don’t like it. But they also know that the comparison is inevitable,” emphasizes Sánchez.

In terms of “energy and power” it is justified to mention both in the same breath. “This only applies to a limited extent to the style of play, because you have to say that Carlos sometimes acts more like Djokovic or Federer,” explains the tennis expert. In general, Alcaraz and Nadal naturally share enormous success at a very young age.

Highlights: Alcaraz celebrate eight wins in a row

Curiously, it was a setback that showed even the last critic how good this Alcaraz is. During preparation for the 2023 season, the teenager suffered a muscle injury in his right leg and had to cancel the Australian Open. The start of the season was postponed to mid-February.

Wilander exclusive: “Alcaraz much more than a number one”

Alcaraz came back and played as if he had never been away. Tournament victory at the comeback in Buenos Aires, final in Rio de Janeiro, title at the Masters in Indian Wells. Successes that, given the circumstances, have to be rated just as highly as the US Open triumph.

That’s when he realized that tennis again had an exceptional talent of the caliber of Nadal, Federer or Djokovic, says Wilander in the Eurosport interview.

“After ‘destroying’ Daniil Medvedev in the Indian Wells final, I am 100 per cent sure that Carlos is much more than ‘just’ number one,” said the Swede. “He has no problems with 90 percent of his competitors. This is a situation that the ‘Big 3’ have had for over 20 years.”

Evert ennobles Alcaraz: “We see a new level”

In fact, Alcaraz showed one of the most impressive performances of the year in the final against Medvedev. The shooting star needed a full 70 minutes to beat the fifth in the world rankings 6:3 and 6:2. Medvedev could only save himself in a kind of gallows humor. “I tried to fight back but it was too easy for you,” said the Russian towards the champion.

It was striking how clever Alcaraz behaved strategically. The “selection of his shots” is remarkable, praises Wilander and goes a giant step further. “When Carlos dictates a rally, he has more options than any other game I’ve seen – with the exception of Roger Federer.”

Pain in Rio leads to Alcaraz’ only defeat

In addition, Alcaraz seems extremely strong mentally. The examples of Dominic Thiem and Juan Martín del Potro show how difficult it can be to stay on course after a Grand Slam title. After their greatest successes, both had problems at various levels and could no longer reach their best level.

Alcaraz, on the other hand, has almost gotten stronger and has dealt with difficulties very well even after the comeback in Buenos Aires.

Highlights: Norrie stops Alcaraz streak in Rio final

Because: A week later, the muscle suddenly reported again, the final in Rio de Janeiro against Cameron Norrie was promptly lost. “I had pain in the same muscle that I injured last month,” said coach Juan Carlos Ferrero’s protégé. The game against Norrie means Alcaraz’s only defeat of the season in 18 matches so far.

Alcaraz wants to be the youngest Sunshine Double Champion

But the next big goal is already within reach. Alcaraz is in the quarterfinals in Miami and is aiming for the so-called “Sunshine Double”, winning the Masters from Indian Wells and Miami back-to-back. A feat that seven players on the ATP Tour have managed so far. Most recently, it was Roger Federer in 2017 and Novak Djokovic in 2016 who managed the double strike.

If Alcaraz follows suit, he would be the youngest player in history to wear the Sunshine Double. “I want to be part of this closed circle,” the Spaniard clarified. A statement that can confidently be transferred to all other elite circles that tennis has to offer.

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