Alcaraz’s first albums
Carlos Alcaraz began to break records back in 2021. At first they were not the most outstanding: for example, in May the Spaniard became the youngest tennis player to win a match in the main draw of the Madrid Masters, but already in September Alcaraz consistently established a series of achievements at the US Open. . We only take note of the final results. Carlos, 18, became the youngest quarterfinalist of this tournament in the Open era, as well as the youngest quarterfinalist of any Slam since 1990, when Michael Chang reached this stage at Roland Garros (although it should be noted here that the The previous year Chang, at the age of 17, was proclaimed champion of the Paris Major).
It was there that one of Alcaraz’s main problems first appeared: trauma. Carlos won two five-set matches in a row, against Stefanos Tsitsipas and Peter Gojowczyk, and then retired during the quarterfinals with Felix Auger-Aliassime midway through the second set, remaining on court for just over an hour. The cause was an injury to the right leg. It’s not the most serious thing, something to do with the muscles, but it’s still unpleasant.
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The youngest men’s tennis leader in history
In the 2022 season, Alcaraz made a magnificent jump from 32nd place in the ranking to the top. Here Carlos has already set truly impressive records, becoming the youngest number one ranking in the history of men’s tennis both during the season and at the end of it. The victory at the US Open, with which he completed his advance to first place, made the Spaniard the youngest champion of this tournament since Pete Sampras in 1990. In addition, Alcaraz won the Miami and Madrid Masters, and in his tournament The local team consecutively defeated three opponents from the top 4 in the ranking: Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev.
However, there were also some injuries here. The ankle problems that caused Carlos to miss the Rome Masters can be considered exaggerated: the Spaniard probably decided to rest between Madrid and Roland Garros. But the season-ending injury, suffered during the quarterfinal match against Holger Rune at the Paris Masters, was definitely serious. Due to a torn abdominal muscle, Alcaraz did not compete in the Final Championship or the final part of the Davis Cup. Furthermore, at the start of the 2023 season he could not play in Australia due to another injury: he injured his right hamstring during training.
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Victories and new injuries
During his absence from the tour, Carlos lost the first line of the ranking, to which Novak returned. It is true that during the season Alcaraz surpassed Djokovic three times, but each time afterward the Serbian became the leader again, and in the end it was Novak who finished the season as the first racket in the world, and Carlos came second. Let’s immediately note that in February the Spaniard missed another tournament due to problems in the same right hamstring, in October he withdrew from Basel due to a minor injury to his left foot, and shortly before he missed the Davis Cup due to fatigue (By the way, without Alcaraz and Nadal, Spain did not reach the final part of the tournament).
Carlos Alcaraz (right) and Novak Djokovic
Photo: Getty Images
At the same time, Carlos again collected a very decent harvest of trophies: again two “Masters” and another “Casco”. This time, instead of Miami, he won Indian Wells (Madrid took him for the second year in a row), and instead of the US Open, he excelled at Wimbledon, despite minimal grass court experience. Don’t get me wrong, the Spaniard has had a great season by conventional standards. In the end, only the great Djokovic performed better than him, and Alcaraz surpassed everyone else in both major titles and ranking points. However, Carlos is perceived as a young superstar, a tennis player who aspires, if not to surpass the records of the Big Three, at least to come close to their results and consistency. And to get to this level he needs to improve. This is also normal: Novak himself did not immediately become an equal to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, and really revealed himself only in 2011, at over 23 years old.
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“The body cannot withstand these overloads”
Thus, Alcaraz’s main problem seems to be its traumatic nature. I have already listed the injuries he suffered, and then I will give the floor to Nikolai Davydenko, who in an exclusive interview with “Championship” explained what the cause could be. “For me Alcaraz is very strange. Why is this happening? Because in the Spanish tennis school there is very serious physical activity. They sway unrealistically, they have a supernatural physical condition.
They focus on this more than tennis. For them, tennis remains in the background. They say that first you have to run and not get tired, and then play on the other side of the field, the body cannot withstand these extra loads. Of course, at 20 years old it is too early to suffer the first injuries. Then others will appear: it goes in a chain. Therefore, he will shoot somewhere, but somewhere he may withdraw from the tournament because something happened.”
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Bad results at the end of the season
Furthermore, Carlos usually gave up at the end of the season. After a magnificent victory at Wimbledon and losing the epic Masters final in Cincinnati (both tournaments ended in battles with Djokovic for Alcaraz), the Spaniard made a series of mistakes. In the semifinals of the US Open, he easily lost to Daniil Medvedev, whom he had confidently defeated twice before, then he could not beat Jannik Sinner, who was very uncomfortable for him, and then there were early defeats at the Masters. by Grigor Dimitrov and Roman Safiullin. Making his debut at the ATP Final Championship, Alcaraz advanced from the group, but lost easily to Djokovic in the semifinals. In the context of Novak, who took the Paris Masters and the final in the fall after the US Open, as well as Yannick, who had a wonderful autumn (two titles, the final of the final and a decisive role in the victory of Italy). in the Davis Cup), these are very pale results.
Photo: Getty Images
Perhaps Alcaraz in his off-season preparation should not focus on the crazy physical activity mentioned by Davydenko, but on the elements of the game. Carlos can serve well, but it wouldn’t hurt to add some stability. It makes sense to further develop the game at the net: it is again at a very good level, especially by the standards of the Spanish tennis school, but Alcaraz can clearly perform even better there. He doesn’t seem to have any problems with shots from the baseline, as well as with short shots and moving around the court, but, in principle, he can improve everywhere. Even on the mental aspect, remember Carlos’s same cramps in the match with Novak at Roland Garros this year, one of the reasons was nerves. Yes, this, again, is a very rare manifestation of Alcaraz’s psychological weakness, but the rarity of the problem does not mean that it is not necessary to work on it.
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