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Carlos Alcaraz, in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal

This match point concluded at the beginning of April on the center court of Miami will go down in history. It allowed Carlos Alcaraz to become, at 18, the youngest winner of the Florida Masters 1000 and one of the three earliest winners, with Michael Chang and Rafael Nadal, of this category of tennis tournaments located just below the four Grand Slams.

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Precocity, therefore, but also the manner. Because this final point negotiated with confusing calm at the end of a hung match (his Norwegian opponent Casper Ruud led 4-1 in the first set) sums up the kid’s style well. He delivered without shaking a sliced ​​corner service, supported without being overpowering, reminiscent of that, again, of a certain Rafael Nadal. Then he concluded the deal with a cushioned and placed volley reminiscent of Pete Sampras, with whom the young Spaniard shares a childish smile, exceptional ball touch and a slightly arched quickdraw, masking a supersonic movement.

Pure product of the rich Spanish school

Nadal and Sampras. Devil ! It was enough to ignite the World Wide Web and the front pages of the four Spanish sports newspapers, including the Madrid brandwhich title “Carlos I of Spain”. Nothing less in the land of the nine great Spanish rackets who have won Grand Slams since 1945, from Manuel Santana and Manuel Orantes to Juan Carlos Ferrero, via Carlos Moya, and, of course, Rafael Nadal. From this list, we must extract three names: Manuel Santana, Manuel Orantes and Rafael Nadal. The only ones not to have triumphed only on the land of Roland-Garros.

We will most certainly have to add Carlos Alcaraz, who does not hide his objective of winning a Grand Slam this year: “I’m prepared, I have the confidence, the level, the physique and the mentality to be able to win. And I’m not afraid to say it, he answered shortly after his victory in Miami on Spanish television. I know there are great players, Rafa, Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Zverev, Djokovic, but I feel ready. It’s the same for the number one spot. I hope it will arrive as soon as possible. »

The path to the heights begins this Sunday, April 10 on the clay courts of Monte-Carlo, where the young prodigy is expected in the garden of Rafael Nadal. The latter has won the Monegasque Masters eleven times. The first time at 18 years and 9 months, precisely the age of the one he himself designated as his dolphin. “Congratulations Carlitos on your historic triumph in Miami. The first of a long series to come, that’s for sure! », wrote on Twitter King Rafa, injured for a few weeks and absent from the Principality.

→ ANALYSIS. Early retirement among athletes: when champions dare to express their weariness

Will the young player follow directly with a new victory in Masters 1000? This is a step that his trainer Juan Carlos Ferrero, winner at Monte-Carlo as at Roland-Garros, has not yet taken. “We are not sure thatclay is the best surface for Carlos”, he moderates.

Youngest winner of a top 50 player

The interested party itself swings between hard and soft surfaces. “I feel very comfortable on both surfaces, I don’t mind playing on clay or on hard courts”, explained on the specialized site We Love Tennis the current 11and world player, who should not stay outside the top 10 for long.

This is also the opinion of Patrick Mouratoglou, renowned coach and one of the finest analysts of world tennis. “He has all the strokes of tennis, he is fast, powerful and ambitious, he plays like the Nadal of today, not the one of yesterday”, he analyzes.

Explanation: the 2005 Nadal played very far behind his baseline, on the counter, with his left arm, mainly using the lift weapon. Carlos Alcaraz displays a more classic style, especially on the fly, a gesture that his mentor took years to tackle.

The native of El Palmar, a village near Murcia in southeastern Spain, is even earlier than his role model. At 15, he won his first match in a Challenger tournament (the second division of professional tennis) in Alicante, in April 2019. The following year, he revealed himself at the ATP 500 tournament in Rio de Janeiro, where he received an invitation. At 16, the 406and world had then beaten the 41and (Albert Ramos-Vinolas), becoming the youngest player to win a match in an ATP tournament since 2013, and the youngest to break a top 50 since 2003. The list of records is just beginning.


The retirement of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

French tennis player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, former world number 5, announced in a video on Wednesday April 6 that he will retire this year after Roland-Garros, when he will be 37 years old. “It will be my 15th Roland”, announces the player, who has fallen to 220th in the world and who is coming out of four years plagued by injuries. The end of a great career: he won the Davis Cup, 18 tournaments including two Masters 1000 (Bercy and Toronto) and participated in a final (Melbourne in 2008) as well as five Grand Slam semi-finals. In doubles, he won four titles, as well as a silver medal at the London Olympics in 2012.


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