Carlos Alcaraz: The youngest number one in tennis history plays against his childhood friend in Wimbledon
In the Wimbledon quarter-finals, tennis high-flyer Carlos Alcaraz meets Holger Rune, who is the same age. At the age of 20, Alcaraz is number one in the world rankings. But he doesn’t want to know anything about a comparison with clay court legend Rafael Nadal.
The big three are gradually disappearing. After Roger Federer will also Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic say goodbye to professional tennis sooner or later. And the younger generation is already scratching away with their tennis shoes.
Carlos Alcaraz is one of them. In the Wimbledon quarterfinals, the Spaniard meets the Dane Holger Rune. A very special match for the two, after all they grew up together on the tennis court. When playing doubles, teenagers used to use sign language to communicate. Today they are rivals. “Playing a quarter-final against him in a Grand Slam is something great that I will enjoy,” says Alcaraz himself.
Not only his success on clay has led to Alcaraz being compared to Rafael Nadal again and again. At the age of 19 he made it to number one in the world rankings. Nadal reached this position at the age of 22. The 20-year-old is considered one of the fairest players in the tournaments and is also reminiscent of the Mallorcan tennis hero. At Wimbledon, the 20-year-old showed fair play when he clapped just under two minutes for Matteo Berrettini, whom he had just defeated. A gesture that tennis fans in the stands immediately appreciated.
Carlos Alcaraz: high-flyer plays in Wimbledon against childhood friend
Alcaraz was just as celebrated during his match against the German Oscar Otte. After winning the first set against his opponent, he served in the second set to make it 15-15. After a short rally, Alcaraz pushed the ball to the line with a volley, which Otte could hardly get. But the German started to sprint and got the ball, played it brilliantly past the net post and into the field. A world-class point that almost didn’t count. Because the line judge gave Alcaraz’ ball out, the chair umpire then revised the decision and wanted a repeat. Alcaraz showed fairness. After a brief back and forth, the chair umpire announced that Alcaraz wanted to forgo the replay and that Otte had given the point.
It is this fairness, this respect for the opponent and the sport that makes Alcaraz one of the biggest stars among the current top players. And for many tennis fans, the successor to the great Nadal, with whom he trained in the past. But Alcaraz himself doesn’t want to know anything about that. “As I’ve said more than once, I don’t want to replace anyone,” he said after winning the Barcelona Open in the spring.
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Compare with Rafael Nadal
Alcaraz’ trainer and ex-professional Juan Carlos Ferrero formulated it similarly. “I don’t want to compare him to the others,” he told Tennis Majors. “You can say that you have to take the best role models to improve your game, absolutely. The movement of [Roger] Federer, Nadal’s mentality and so on. We try to take details from players when we think they’re super good, to put them into our game,” he continued. But the comparison with his compatriot weighed heavily on Alcaraz, he revealed. “In a way, they were We’re very proud that people think that, but it wasn’t easy for him and me to hear that all the time,” he said.
Nadal has also softened in the past when he heard about the comparisons with his younger successor. “The only thing we can do is enjoy the career of an exceptional player like Carlos. But stop comparing him to me,” he said. The pressure on the shoulders of such a young, successful player is already great enough. A comparison like this doesn’t help.
The eternal comparisons show one thing above all: the legacy of the great Federer, the great Nadal and also the great Djokovic is huge. The fact that three of the greatest tennis talents of all time played at the same time was so special and has had such a lasting impact on the sport over the past few decades that talented young stars are automatically compared to them. The upcoming Grand Slams will show whether Alcaraz can be the next “Goat”. “What I do know is that he is capable of doing great things for tennis,” said his coach. And that’s a good start.
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