No escaping ‘best in the world’ Alcaraz is heir to idol Nadal | Tennis News – Times of India

PARIS: Few players have competed against Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the last two decades, but Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz has threatened to overthrow the established discipline of tennis after the glittering rise of stardom.
Alcaraz, who turned just 19 last Thursday, became the first player to beat Nadal and Djokovic on the ground in the same tournament on his way to winning his second Masters 1000 title in Madrid.
Predicted for seemingly greatness, Alcaraz has kept his promise so far, with the defeated finalist Alexander Zavrev describing him as “the best player in the world right now.”
He became the quarter-finalist of the youngest US Open of the Open era last September, then won his first Masters crown in Miami in early April. Only Nadal has won two such titles at a young age.
“I would say this is the best week of my life,” Alcaraz said on Sunday, before leaving France for a sore ankle rest ahead of the French Open, which starts on May 22.
Trained by former world number one and 2003 Roland Garros champion Juan Carlos Ferrero, Alcaraz knows he has some options.
“I still have to improve on everything,” he said. “I have very good shots, but they can be improved and better.”
Alcaraz was born in 2003, just two months before Federer won his first major title at Wimbledon.
But, perhaps surprisingly, it was his compatriot Nadal – the record 21-time Grand Slam champion – that he admired the most.
“I’ve always looked at Rafa, I’ve always watched his big moments and matches and learned a lot from him,” said Alcaraz, who received a congratulatory call from King Philip VI of Spain after the Miami victory.
Alcaraz was ranked 120th when he made his Madrid debut a year ago. Fast-forward 12 months and the hottest young prospect in men’s tennis has risen to a career-best sixth.
His four singles titles are the most at ATP Tour this year, with 28 wins.
“It’s great for tennis that we have a new superstar who is going to win so many grand slams, that is going to be number one in the world,” said Zverev.
Stefanos Sitcipas, runner-up at last year’s French Open, polished by Alcaraz, surprised by the all-round game, is acutely aware that he is another significant obstacle in his quest for Grand Slam glory.
“She inspires me a lot. I really want to be like her. I look up to her,” said Sitsipus, 23, at the forefront of a generation ready to take on the role of “Big Three.”
“I know he’s young, in the early stages of his career. I see him grow up in a very short time. I really want to get to where he is now. I think he’s one of the best players in the world. The world.”
Sitsipus suggested that anger at Alcaraz and his relentless rise might draw one of the sport’s most senior politicians, but Nadal insisted he was satisfied for his countrymen.
“Everyone knows how confident he is now that he can reach that level. I’m happy for him,” said Nadal, who won his first major at the Roland Garros in 2005, two days after his 19th birthday.
“Happy because our country has had a great player for many years.”
Although Nadal’s time in the spotlight is not over, as proof of his remarkable comeback victory in the final of the Australian Open, he admits that Alcaraz will at least divert some attention.
“He’s young, he’s new, and all new things are much more interesting than old things, no doubt,” Nadal said.
“It always looks good when you see a new car. When you see a new phone, it always looks better than the old one. It’s something that’s normal in this life. I can’t complain about it at all.”


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