When I watch Carlos Alcaraz play I forget he is only 18! He plays the game like he has been on tour for a number of years, this was his breakthrough season. Over the next couple of years he will have highs and low, everyone does but he is a generational talent.
He has just won the NextGen Finals without losing a match ending his season on the tour with 32 wins, he only turned 18 a few months back. He is the youngest player to win 32 matches on the ATP tour in a season since 1992.
I’m not a fan of comparisons but being Spanish seems to be the click that gets him likened to Rafael Nadal, he’s Carlos Alcaraz and he’s a bloody good tennis player.
Carlos was ranked at 146 in the world at the beginning of the year and had to come through qualifying in Melbourne and Paris, now he is a title winner and in that bracket to potentially be seeded in Melbourne in January.
With the former world number one and Grand Slam winner Juan Carlos Ferrero in his team it brings such an experience and you can see that in Carlos’ game and how he processes points and big moments in matches. Whether he wins or loses a point there is a process, he is thinking about it in that moment but moves onto the next one, he is a very clever player.
I did have a bit of a worry following his 5-0 collapse in Paris but he talked about the crowd being a learning curve and seeing what he did in Milan this week you forget that.
One of the biggest compliments I can pay to him is that he stops others playing. We’ve only seen Carlos for a year or so but we know he has a strong two handed backhand and a fierce forehand as well as that confidence at the net but what do you target as an opponent? It is just about shots but how he opens up the court, he uses every inch and does simply things to open up big spaces.
We saw in New York he picked apart Stefanos Tsitsipas and has done so with many other experienced players this year and it’s quite phenomenal to watch:
Numerous times this year I have watched and just said ‘too good’. I like Seb Korda, I think he will be top 10 in the future and I thought he played well in the Milan final but he couldn’t do anything. His backhand didn’t get going, 0/6 break points won, more points won in the first set but lost it and as a result the frustration crept in behind the forehand in particular. He has opportunities but this guy comes up with the answer to nullify opponents.
As the top seed I thought he had this before a ball was hit, that’s the confidence I have watching him. He dropped one set in a dead rubber match but apart from that set the standard. I think others will leave Milan happy but thinking that’s the level I need to get to.
To go from outside 140 in the world to 32 in a year having only turned 18 a few months ago is outstanding and has made a lot of progress this year.
I cannot wait to watch Carlos play over the coming years, he has been a breath of fresh air on the tour and in the last year or so there has been a lot of talk about ‘what happens after Roger/Rafa/Novak/Andy/Stan?’ etc… but tennis is good hands!