He has records that even improve those of Rafael Nadal. But Carlos Alcaraz wants to be him, with his path, although the spotlights do not stop pointing at him because Spanish tennis needs to cling to something other than the void that the progress, increasingly closer, of the Balearic Islands can leave. But Carlos Alcaraz wants to be him. A singular tennis player who has already gotten into the Australian Open after passing the previous phase. And at 17 years old, he gives others reason to believe, while he remains on the ground.
The promise was growing when the Murcian was barely 14 years old, with the first ATP points in his booty, younger than a certain Nadal, junior Davis Cup champion and of all internal categories. Only a few months later, when he was 15, he beat Pedro Martínez at the Murcia Open and became the youngest player to beat a top 200, after Tomic, Gasquet and the one from Manacor. Novak Djokovic did not make it until he was 16 years and 11 months; Roger Federer was already 17 when he did it. Another record in his backpack: he succeeded Nadal as the youngest tennis player to achieve a victory in a “challenger” tournament, the circuit immediately below the ATP professional; his rival, Jannik Sinner, champion of the “Junior” Masters Cup and opponent of Manacor in this last Roland Garros 2020.
With 16 he already crossed off the list to achieve his first victory on the professional circuit. It was in Rio de Janeiro, before Albert Ramos, 16 years older than him. And a few months later, when he turned 17 (in April), his first “challenger” title, in Italy, was succeeded by Barcelona and Alicante. At the height of Djokovic in his beginnings. Invitations rained down on him: Conde de Godó or Miami. Also the previous one of Roland Garros. But it came too soon. They don’t want to run though his body has already been stretched until 1’85 and his tennis is aggressive from beginning to end. Especially on fast tracks, where he performs wonderfully on all levels.
A tennis player by family tradition, his father and grandfather also took to the racket, and with a certain projection, until the high cost of schools put an end to the illusion, he belts himself at the Juan Carlos Ferrero Academy thanks to the aid he has received from different sponsors, the IMG agency, and businessmen who have seen in Alcaraz a talent with a very good hand and a better head.
The Federation follows closely, but leaves space. Javier Soler, sports director, already indicated to this newspaper that they asked for caution with the boy, despite what is already dazzling. “Expectations are high, but we must not become obsessed. You have to be patient in its development because tennis is a very long career, “he warned. “The important thing,” he continued, “is that a replacement for Nadal is no longer sought. You have to let him learn. You don’t have to run.
The only one who runs, but with well-established steps, is Alcaraz himself. In the final draw of the Australian Open with 17 years and counting. The youngest among the top 200 and the award of his fellow tennis players for the best progression in 2020, with a quality jump of 350 places to the 141 that now occupies.