New Delhi: On his 18th birthday in 2021, Carlos Alcaraz lost to one of his tennis idols, Rafael Nadal, in a row at the Madrid Open. The tournament was important for Nadal’s Spanish colleague Alcaraz, because he is in Madrid first started watching tennis, and found inspiration in legend.
Nadal was ruthless as usual, receiving only three games before sending the teenager to pack.
A year later, the tables turned, and how. Alcaraz, who is now 19, not only defeated Nadal, but also world number one Novak Djokovic and world number 3 Alexander Zverev to lift the trophy at the Madrid Open and thus become his youngest champion. And that catapulted him to the status of one of the favorites for the French Open Grand Slam tournament, which starts next week.
Alcaraz is not a complete flash in the pan. At a height of 6’1 ″, it has been generating waves for some time and is already ranked sixth in the world of men’s tennis. His punches are sharp and fall down the baseline from either end, but he also has the skill of a delicate fall, often cleverly disguised, which is used often against Nadal and the Beasts to secure victory.
Although he greatly admires Nadal, he has a photo of Roger Federer nailed in his room.
ThePrint looks back on his journey so far.
Praise from the greats
When he defeated Nadal with a difference of 6-2, 1-6, 6-3Alcaraz became the first teenager that he defeated the legend on clay.
“It’s hard to describe my emotions after today’s game, but I can say that it was one of the best moments in my life, something I will never forget. It is always a pleasure to play against Rafael Nadal, ”he said published on Instagram on Saturday.
His victory at the Madrid Open is hailed by all the top players, especially those he defeated along the way.
Breaking record after record
Alcaraz, who hails from Murcia, Spain, made his debut at the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) at the age of 15 in 2018 and has since broken the record for second. In January this year, he became the youngest player sown at the Grand Slam tournament since 1990, a feat he achieved earlier than Federer, Djokovic or Nadal.
He is in September 2021 won his first ATP tournament, beating Richard Gasquet in a row (6-2, 6-2) at the Croatia Open in Umag. Alcaraz was the youngest player reach ATP finals since 2008. After the match, Gasquet, a regular guest on the tour, said he plays “amazing” tennis.
A few months later, Alcaraz caused another big trouble at the US Open, beating Stefanos Tsitsipas and becoming the youngest player to advance to the fourth round of the tournament since 1992. New York Times title read: ‘In tennis, Carlos Alcaraz will cause a big crowd’.
His coach, fellow Spaniard and former world no. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero, believes that the goal is not to rush and be patient in matches.
“The key is to continue to do well this year and not think for a moment that hard work has already been done … But knowing Carlos and the values he and his family have, I would be very surprised if he allows success to go to his head,” he said. Ferrero said in January interview to New York Times.
(Edited by Gitanjali Das)