On July 6, 2003, the day after Alcaraz turned two months previous, Federer received his first grand slam title at Wimbledon, kickstarting an period during which the ‘Massive Three’ have been victorious at 61 of the previous 74 grand slam tournaments.
In that point, varied gamers have been billed because the “subsequent technology” in males’s tennis; in 2015, it was Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic; in 2019, it was Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas; in 2022, it’s Carlos Alcaraz.
Thus far, none of this “subsequent technology” have persistently challenged the dominance of the ‘Massive Three,’ although there’s something totally different about Alcaraz — one thing not seen because the exploits of his compatriot Nadal.
Like Nadal, Alcaraz entered the highest 10 for the primary time after successful the Barcelona Open as an 18-year-old. He is additionally the youngest man since Nadal to enter the highest 10 and win an ATP 1000 title.
“All of those biggest of all time gamers … have been nice already as youngsters or exhibiting flashes of being nice as youngsters,” tennis journalist Ben Rothenberg advised CNN Sport
Altering the goalposts
After he received the Miami Open in April, Alcaraz outlined his comparatively modest objectives for 2022 to CNN’s Don Riddell — breaking into the highest 10 of the world rankings and reaching the quarterfinals of a grand slam.
Simply three weeks later, Alcaraz entered the highest 10 after he took victory on the Barcelona Open.
Two weeks after Barcelona, Alcaraz received his fourth title of 2022 on the Madrid Open, defeating Nadal and Djokovic on his technique to the ultimate.
Thus far this 12 months, he has amassed a exceptional 90% win price — a share that will increase to 94% on clay.
Following these victories and his meteoric rise to the very high of the game, Alcaraz reoriented his objectives for the 12 months.
“I might say that I’m one of many favourite gamers to win Roland Garros,” Alcaraz advised CNN.
“There are a whole lot of nice gamers — Rafa, Djokovic, the perfect gamers on the earth are going to play there, however I believe I am able to do an excellent lead to Roland Garros.”
If Alcaraz is to win his first grand slam at Roland Garros, he should do it the laborious means because the 19-year-old is in the identical half of the draw as each Nadal and Djokovic.
Nonetheless, Alcaraz’s crew stay upbeat.
“Carlos will attain wherever he want to,” Alcaraz’s health coach Alberto Lledó advised CNN Sport.
“If he targets a aim and retains working with the identical dedication as till now, he’ll be capable to obtain it.”
Sharing particular moments
Alcaraz’s ascent to turning into one of many favorites at Roland Garros started in his hometown of El Palmar on the outskirts of Murcia, the place he was talent-spotted at age 11 by his now agent Albert Molina.
4 years later, Juan Carlos Ferrero — a former world no. 1 and runner-up on the French Open — started teaching the teen.
Their shut relationship was evident on the Miami Open the place Ferrero was absent for a lot of the event as a result of his father had handed away.
“That is for Juanki. The win is yours,” Alcaraz wrote in Spanish on a digital camera lens after his semifinal victory.
As soon as Alcaraz had reached the ultimate, Ferrero flew to Florida to shock and help his younger cost.
“It means lots to me to have the ability to share this particular second for me with him,” Alcaraz mentioned.
“He has been via a troublesome second proper now. He got here away from his household for a few days to stick with me and it’s so good for me.”
Ferrero and the remainder of Alcaraz’s crew have instilled a mentality that emphasizes the significance of perseverance and laborious work — “a tradition of effort” as his physiotherapist Juanjo Moreno calls it.
As is commonly the case with younger athletes, Alcaraz’s breakthrough on the highest degree of the game appears to have occurred in a single day following large enhancements throughout the offseason. The truth is, the alternative is true, in accordance with Moreno.
“This 12 months we had a protracted preseason, so now we have been capable of focus additional on his health improvement, however the health change is the results of Carlos’ laborious work for a very long time, altering his habits of labor, relaxation and weight loss program,” Moreno mentioned.
The important thing to success
This “tradition of effort” additionally interprets into Alcaraz’s performances on the courtroom.
His athleticism kinds the idea of his recreation, permitting him to unleash aggressive floor strokes and defend audaciously from all areas of the courtroom.
“I believe I’m going for each match and each second,” Alcaraz mentioned. “I don’t concern something, I do not thoughts if I play in opposition to any participant on the earth.”
It’s this consistency throughout all areas of the sport that appears to be the important thing to his success.
He doesn’t have one overwhelming power — comparable to a very highly effective serve — that may be neutralized by particular ways, nor does he have an apparent weak spot.
“He is an extremely full, well-rounded participant for somebody so younger and he can do all of it,” Rothenberg mentioned.
“He appears very sharp tactically, he has an excellent tennis IQ and bodily he has been nice too.”
For Lledó, it’s Alcaraz’s mentality and “the persona he exhibits within the powerful moments, his means of going through them” that mark him out as a particular expertise.
In his quarterfinal in opposition to Nadal on the Madrid Open, for instance, Alcaraz was outclassed 6-1 within the second set however nonetheless rallied to win the match, whereas he tjhen eked out a 6-7(5) 7-5 7-6(5) victory in opposition to Djokovic within the semifinal.
In addition to Alcaraz’s prodigious expertise on the courtroom, he has a straightforward attraction and broad grin that endear him to the gang wherever he performs.
“Nobody actually has a nasty phrase to say about [him],” Rothenberg mentioned.
‘One other star is born’
With every championship that Alcaraz wins, the media hype round him grows just a little louder as males’s tennis longs for a brand new storyline and a brand new star.
Again in Spain, the nation’s sports activities newspapers hailed their new, all-conquering hero after his victory on the Madrid Open.
“Charlie you might be nice,” mentioned Marca’s headline; El País declared that “one other star is born,” whereas AS’ entrance web page merely learn “Blessed” in entrance of an image of Zverev pouring champagne over Alcaraz.
Alcaraz himself appears to be avoiding most of this protection.
“Lots of people have been watching me, congratulating me,” Alcaraz advised CNN after his victory in Miami.
“Social media proper now is sort of a increase, and I’ve not had time to learn every part but however it’s superb that lots of people and newspapers discuss you.”
As for overturning the regime that has dominated males’s tennis for the final 20 years, Alcaraz is reluctant to solid himself as a revolutionary heralding a brand new period.
“I am a fortunate man to study from these guys [Nadal, Federer and Djokovic] so shut — to share a locker room, to share courts,” he mentioned. “I hope to look at them for a few years.”
However no matter how lengthy the ‘Massive Three’ can delay their illustrious careers, Roland Garros might be about to witness the primary real problem to the established order in males’s tennis for a very long time.