Thursday, June 8, 2023

Alcaraz prepares the assault on the last frontier: winning in Nadal territory

Last Friday, while Carlos Alcaraz Celebrating his 20th year playing and beating Borna Coric, Rafael Nadal counterprogrammed his heir by announcing in the middle of their semifinal match that he would not play in Rome, the last tournament before Roland Garros. A coincidence, one might think. Or a consciously chosen moment, depending on how you look at it. The truth is Carlitosas it is now known throughout the world, continues to eat up ground from the Balearic Islandswho works against the current to speed up his options to reach the great Parisian.

After 10:00 pm, shortly after receiving the trophy from José Luis Martínez Almeida that accredited him as the winner of the Mutua Madrid Open for the second time in his career, Alcaraz appeared to assess his victory in the Spanish capital. Smiling, but calm. Without excessive celebrations. The head is focused on the second Grand Slam of the year, a goal that he has between “eyebrows” since he fell out of the Australian Open due to injury.

The Murcian begins to turn victory into a routine, He already has ten titles in a career that is still in its infancy. Seven of those victories (Madrid and Barcelona twice, Umag, Rio and Buenos Aires) have come on clay, a surface that he has always maintained is not his favourite, but on which he does not stop winning trophies and continues to stand out as a huge competitor. The latter, with suffering before a surprising Jan-Lennard Struff, who at times had him against the canvas but who succumbed like everyone else to an Alcaraz who already has 21 consecutive victories in tournaments held in Spain.

“I grow in important moments”

“I think I have one great ability to play the important moments. It’s when I grow the most, I get to get my best level and show what sets me apart from the rest of the players”, said Alcaraz, who defines himself “as a finals player” and has only lost three in his career. “They are very nice achievements , very big. I am very proud of everything we are conquering but we don’t want to stop”.

All the titles of the season on clay have fallen to his side, with the exception of the final in Rio, which he lost to Cameron Norrie, playing affected by muscle discomfort in his right leg. Machine, therefore, the one that would be the great blownot only for the circuit, but for Spanish tennis: win at Roland Garros, Nadal’s stronghold. The last step of a relay that seems closer with each passing day, and that the tennis player from El Palmar himself has already been in charge of starting by polishing a track record unbecoming of someone who has just exceeded twenty.

“I have already said it many times that it is a shame to see Rafa skip the tournaments and even more so the tour of the ground, which is very special for him. In the end, if he has decided not to go to Rome together with his team, it is because he has seen that he is still not ready and obviously I wish him a speedy recovery and I hope to see him at Roland Garros at one hundred percent, which is what the world of tennis wants“Recognizes Alcaraz, who has always shown his desire to face each other and compete with his idol on the track.

In Paris he will disembark hungry after missing the Australian Open due to injury, but before that he will come to Rome, where he will play for the first time. “I’m an ambitious boy. I’ve never competed there and I don’t know how it’s going to be, but I’m sure I’m going to enjoy it and I’m going to be able to make the Italian public enjoy it”, valued the number two, who is currently only five points from Novak Djokovic in the race for number one and just by stepping on the track he would recover that position by taking it from the Serbian, defender of the 1,000 points of his victory last year.

A position that would facilitate his path at Roland Garros, although this year there could be a trap. The often capricious draw could net him an early meeting with 14th-ranked Nadal, should he end up showing up in Paris. And after the victory of the Murcian in Madrid, all eyes are already pointing to a possible crossing with the Balearic Islands in his fiefdom. That, and no other, would be the ultimate challenge.


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