Carlos Alcaraz, the great protagonist in the central court of the Caja Mágica, in Madrid

“At the age of seven, you could already see that he had something special and different. He assimilated things that were not normal at his age, such as the tennis technique that accompanies professionals and he copied it”. The one who opened the trunk of memories is Carlos Alcaraz González (51 years old). A racket professional, he had a modest career: he reached the 963rd position in the ATP individual ranking in 1990. After his experience on the circuit he dedicated himself to teaching the sport he loves and it was, naturally, the one who gave him a racket in his hand to his son, Carlitos, when he was barely three years old. What Alcaraz (father) never imagined is that the second of his four children would have an explosive growth and that it would begin to rewrite the history books.

Alcaraz has an angel. He is a chosen one. His youthful smile, genuine and contagious, contrasts with the fierceness of his biceps, the fire of his impact and the malice with which he competes. “Continuity is guaranteed”, writes Toni Nadal, Rafael Nadal’s uncle and trainer, the best Spanish athlete in history. “For years I expressed my concern about the void that my nephew would probably leave in our sport when he retired. Now I am convinced that this gap will be completely filled. Without a doubt, Spanish fans have the opportunity to continue vibrating for many more years with a tennis player with enough capacity to emulate the best”, said Uncle Toni, who does not usually throw glorifications on the air, in his usual column in the Spanish newspaper El País . But Alcaraz is different. He has “champion dough.”

Carlos Alcaraz, the great protagonist in the central court of the Caja Mágica, in Madrid Quality Sport Images – Getty Images Europe

For a long time, those who manage the professional men’s circuit and the sponsors have been watching with some concern what can happen to “the market” when legends like Nadal, Roger Federer (he will turn 41 in August and has not played since last July) and Novak Djokovic are no longer on the tour. The “newcomers” of the super elite, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini and Jannik Sinner, to name just a few, have so far not shown enough charisma to aspire to lead that transition. But Alcaraz, on the other hand, has it all. The public begins, in an accelerated way, to admire him, to follow him. A fact that impacted last Saturday, during the clash between the Murcian and Djokovic, for the semifinals of the Masters 1000 in Madrid: Arseni Pérez, tennis narrator on the Spanish network RTVE, reported that the match reached a peak of 2,957,000 spectators and a 32.4% share at 20 in that country.

Tennis, many times, showed signs of being an individualistic environment, in which praise is not given just like that. Much less weighting of the forcefulness that came from the mouth of an exquisite former tennis player like the Belgian Justine Henin (1st in 2003, winner of 43 titles). “In terms of the game, Carlos Alcaraz seems to me more complete than Nadal, Federer and Djokovic”, sentenced Henin, in sudinfo.be. Another former leader of the ranking, Chilean Marcelo “Chino” Ríos, highlighted in the newspaper La Tercera of that country: “I saw Carlos play against Nadal in Indian Wells. It reminds me a bit of the beginnings of Fernando González, who hit absolutely everything. Patience is required with these types of players. Now it seems that everything is entering him and it is very difficult to stop him. He is a mini-Nadal, he plays hard and has a privileged physique. In addition, he is trained by a person like Juan Carlos Ferrero. He is a good tennis player”.

Carlos Alcaraz and Roger Federer, one of his youth idols, on the London lawn
Carlos Alcaraz and Roger Federer, one of his youth idols, on the London lawn

A character from another era, like Rick Macci, coach of figures like Andy Roddick, Serena and Venus Williams, made a post on his YouTube account and pointed to Alcaraz as the perfect player. “I have seen many players come and go, people with a lot of potential. I have seen Federer, Nadal and Djokovic when they were young, but in the last 30 years I have not seen anyone like Alcaraz. He has it all. He not only meets all the requirements, but he has created some more. What makes it special? The movement. Has a pure movement on the court. His speed is insane. He has slightly different genetics in his hips and that power he generates in his lower body movement makes him a unique athlete. You can see a lot of Rafa in him, like his mentality. What I like the most is that he is not afraid. I have never seen anyone at the age of 18 go from defense to attack in the blink of an eye. I can see this kid becoming the greatest player of all time.”

Nadal's greeting for Alcaraz;  Rafa lavished several compliments on him whom many see as his successor, including his uncle Toni
Nadal’s greeting for Alcaraz; Rafa lavished several compliments on him whom many see as his successor, including his uncle ToniClive Brunskill – Getty Images North America

Those who share the circuit with him also surrender to what they see. “It’s an inspiration. Hopefully I can be like him”, said Tsitsipas, who is four years older than Alcaraz and was already 3rd in the world (current 5th). “How fun it is to see @ alcarazcarlos03 play! Come on Charlie!” American Sebastian Korda (21 years old; 30th in the ranking) wrote on Twitter over the weekend. “He moves very well on the court and returns a lot of balls, which can get frustrating. You feel like you’ve hit a winner, but he comes along and you need to hit like three or four more when normally you need to hit one or two to win the point. His footwork is very fast, but also the power in his groundstrokes”, commented Norwegian Casper Ruud (10th), who lost the Miami final to Alcaraz in March.

Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal: a postcard of Spanish tennis
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal: a postcard of Spanish tennis

“I just have to congratulate him… Relay? He has just turned 19 years old and I am almost 36. If he is from today, I don’t know, we’ll see in a few months, “said Nadal, after losing to Alcaraz last Friday in Madrid. “He has all the ingredients and a great team by his side. Also, he is humble enough to work hard. He reminds me of a lot of things from when I was a kid of 18 or 19 years old. I think he has the passion, the talent and a great physical component”, Rafa added. about his “heir”. In Madrid, Alcaraz beat No. 4 (Nadal), No. 1 (Djokovic) and No. 3 (Alexander Zverev) to become the youngest player in ATP Tour history (since 1990) to beat three Top 5 rivals in the same tournament.

Carlos Alcaraz amazes the circuit with the freshness of his tennis
Carlos Alcaraz amazes the circuit with the freshness of his tennisATP

Alcaraz, who had also won the Miami Open, became the second youngest tennis player to lift two Masters 1000 titles (only Nadal was younger when he achieved this milestone at the age of 18, in 2005). What else? This year he became the youngest player to reach the Top 20 since Andrei Medvedev in 1993 and the youngest to reach the Top 10 since Nadal, also in 2005. Carlitos rewrites the tennis history books. Not even his father, when he made him hold the racket for the first time in Murcia, would have imagined it.

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