No escape from the “best in the world” Alcaraz is the heir to the idol Nadal | Tennis News


BETTING: Few players have rivaled Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the past two decades, but Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz threatens to upend the established order of tennis after a dizzying rise to stardom.
Alcaraz, who turned 19 last Thursday, became the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic on clay in the same tournament en route to a second Masters 1000 title in Madrid.
Seemingly destined for greatness, Alcaraz has so far delivered on his promise, described by beaten runner-up Alexander Zverev as “currently the best player in the world”.
He became the youngest US Open quarter-finalist of the Open era last September, then won his first Masters crown in Miami in early April. Only Nadal has won two of those titles at a younger age.
“I would say it’s been the best week of my life,” Alcaraz said on Sunday, before pulling out of Rome to rest a sore ankle ahead of the French Open which begins on May 22.
Coached by former world number one and 2003 Roland Garros champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, Alcaraz knows he still has a long way to go.
“I still have to improve in everything,” he said. “I have very good shots, but they can be improved and can be much better.”
Alcaraz was born in 2003, just two months before Federer won his first major title at Wimbledon.
But, perhaps unsurprisingly, it is fellow countryman Nadal, a 21-time Grand Slam champion, whom he admires the most.
“I’ve always admired Rafa, I’ve always watched his great moments and his matches and learned a lot from them,” said Alcaraz, who received a congratulatory call from Spain’s King Felipe VI after his triumph at Miami.
A year ago, Alcaraz was 120th on his Madrid debut. Fast forward 12 months and the hottest young prospect in men’s tennis has hit a career-best sixth.
His four singles titles are the most on the ATP Tour this year, as are his 28 match wins.
“It’s great for tennis that we have such a new superstar who is going to win so many Grand Slams, who is going to be number one in the world,” Zverev said.
Last year’s French Open runner-up Stefanos Tsitsipas marvels at Alcaraz’s polished all-round play, aware that he is another significant hurdle in his own quest for Grand Slam glory.
“He inspires me a lot. I really want to be like him. I look up to him,” said Tsitsipas, 23, at the forefront of the generation set to take over from the ‘Big Three’.
“I know he’s at a young and early stage in his career. I can see him getting big in a very short time. I would really like to get to the level he is at now. I think he’s one of the best players in the world.”
Tsitsipas suggested the furor over Alcaraz and his inexorable rise could irritate some of the sport’s oldest statesmen, but Nadal insisted he was happy for his compatriot.
“Everyone knows the level of confidence he has right now, the level he can reach. I’m happy for him,” said Nadal, who won his first major at Roland Garros in 2005, two days after his 19th birthday.
“Happy because we have an amazing player in our country for many years to come.”
While Nadal’s time in the spotlight is far from over, as evidenced by his remarkable victory in the Australian Open final, he accepts that Alcaraz is at least distracting some of the attention.
“He’s young, he’s new, and all the new things are much more interesting than the old ones, no doubt,” Nadal said.
“When you see a new car, it’s always better. When you see a new phone, it’s always better than the old one. It’s something normal in this life. complain about it.”

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