Thursday, June 8, 2023

Carlos Alcaraz, 20 years old and a mystery: is there someone who can stop him?

“Take it easy, brother.” The pleas of Stefanos Tsitsipas after falling in the recent final of the Conde de Godó against Carlos Alcaraz They arrived laughing and wanting to win over the Barcelona public, but their background hid the latent feeling that an aroma of tyranny is once again enveloping the men’s circuit. The Murcian tennis player, who this Friday faces Borna Coric for a place in the final in Madrid (16.00; TDP)blows out the candles and enters his twenties settled, with permission from Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, as the lord and master of world tennis. And on the horizon there is no guessing, for the moment, anything or anyone that can stop it.

The last death throes of their domain are rushed by the two survivors of the big three while they see how their heir is not satisfied with a friendly transfer of power. Alcaraz does not ask for permission, who broke down the door in 2022 and clearly shows his aspirations: “I want to become one of the best in history, I know it is very big, but in this world you have to dream big and think big too. I want to be part of the best tennis players in historyand I will work to achieve it.”

Before changing the decade, the man from El Palmar has had time to play 150 games as a professional and taking the bag with 117 victories (78%). 27 of them have come this year, in which he has only lost two games (in both he suffered physical problems) and has been always, at least, in the semifinals of each tournament he has played. One more proof of the regularity and consistency with which he moves on the circuit, unattainable for the rest of his generational rivals.

If he revalidates his crown in the Caja Mágica and adds what would be his tenth title as a professional, he will be only five points behind Novak Djokovic in the ATP ranking and he would return to number one with just playing a match at the Masters in Rome, the next tournament on the clay court tour. No one in history had been at his age, and for him it would already be the third time.

Carlos Alcaraz, during his match against Kachanov at the Mutua Madrid Open. DIEGO SOUTO / MMO

Nadal, Borg and Becker

And above the numbers, only comparable at this stage of the race to those of legends like his own nadalBjon Borg or Boris Becker, there are the sensations. He has that extra that allows him to compete at his 20 as if he were 30, and he has already made winning a routine. She falls in love with the wrapper, a virtuous game with which she leaves a mark on the minds of the fans, while what is not seen, his mental strengthshows tournament after tournament to be a couple of steps above the rest, as is the case with the biggest.

“I think he is the most complete male tennis player I have seen at that age. Federer didn’t win his first Grand Slam until he was 21 years old. Nadal won at 17 but he wasn’t good on all surfaces until he was 21 or 22. In Alcaraz, on the other hand, you don’t really see a weakness”, explained the former American number one during the week Andy Roddicksurrendered to the young man.

“I don’t feel superior to anyone or unbeatable, but I know how difficult it is to win when I feel good physically and with confidence. If I am like that, I am aware that they will have to play very, very well to beat me“, recognized after rendering Karen Kachanov in the quarterfinals the number 2, who does not seem to have a rival on Spanish soil, where it leads 19 consecutive victories and on Sunday he can become the first tennis player to win the Barcelona-Madrid double in two consecutive years.

double edged sword

A “blessing to the world of tennis“, which has found the vein it was looking for to fill the decline of the ‘Big Three’, but at the same time a double-edged sword. Is there anyone in sight capable of stopping him? Will any player be able to keep up with him when Djokovic and Nadal retire?

Fans fantasize about a big three modern in which to accompany you Jannik Sinner and Holger Rune, but the truth is that the two are still very far from Murcia. The Italian, 21 years and eight in the worldholds the individual pulse with the Murcian (3-3), but still does not know what it is to win in a Masters 1,000 or go from quarterfinals in a Grand Slam. And the Danish, contemporarynavigates between the dichotomy of owning great conditions weighed down by a still indomitable temperament.

Both live with the irrational feeling of being left behind despite still being youngsters. And little does Alcaraz care, that considers himself “his biggest rival”: “No, I’m not afraid of everything I’m getting. I’m a very ambitious boy who doesn’t want to lose even marbles. I think I’m not going to get tired of winning, nor am I afraid of it. I live from day to day and I love to play tennis. I’m a winning boy, so I don’t think it’s going to happen that one day I’ll get tired”.

Swiatek and Sabalenka meet in the best women’s final in the history of Madrid

From Stuttgart to Madrid. For the second consecutive tournament, the two best tennis players on the planet will face each other in a match for a title. The Polish Iga Swiatek, number 1, and the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (2) will meet this Saturday (6:30 pm; Movistar Deportes) in the best women’s final, by ranking, in the history of the Mutua Madrid Open.

A couple of weeks ago, Swiatek beat Sabalenka in Germany, in the tournament that opened the clay court tour. “I really want a rematch,” said the Belarusian, champion in the Spanish capital in 2021, about her duel against the great dominator of clay in recent years, who will seek her first win in the tournament.


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