Carlos Alcaraz, the tennis teen writing history at the U.S. Open
Spanish tennis star Carlos Alcaraz has been so good at the 2021 U.S. Open that already whispers circle that he could be the ‘Next Rafa.’
It’s big talk.
But when you reflect on what the 18-year-old has already achieved at Flushing Meadows you quickly understand the chatter.
The 55th-ranked player shocked the watching world when he downed world number three Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 0-6, 7-6 (5) in what unfolded to be a thrilling five-set encounter.
Then, showing match maturity well beyond his years, Alcaraz went on to survive another five-set clash against Peter Gojowczyk 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 in round four.
His victory over the German means the 18-year-old is now the youngest man to reach the last eight in New York in the Open Era.
Waiting next for Alcaraz is another burgeoning tennis star: Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Ahead of their quarter final clash, here’s what else you should know about Carlos Alcaraz.
1. Carlos Alcaraz: a quick biography
Carlos Alcaraz Garfia was born May 5, 2003, in Murcia, Spain.
His parents are Carlos and Virginia, and he is one of their four children.
Alcaraz first picked up a racquet aged four after his father, who also once played the sport competitively.
When he is not playing tennis, the Spaniard enjoys football and golf and is a supporter of Real Madrid.
2. His progress in tennis has been trending sharply upwards
For close followers of tennis, Alcaraz’s explosion on the scene in New York isn’t all that surprising.
In early 2020, before the tour was suspended, the teenager won his first ATP tour-level match beating then ranked 41 in the world Albert Ramos Vinolas in a hard-fought, physical battle at the Rio Open.
On the restart, Alcaraz went on to win three Challenger titles prompting his ATP colleagues to award him ‘Newcomer of the Year.’
In 2021 Alcaraz has only continued his meteoric rise through the rankings and into the conscious of tennis fans everywhere.
Not only has he made all of this year’s majors but he also took his maiden ATP title in July.
The Spaniard defeated France’s Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-2 at the Croatian Open.
His victory over the former world number seven means Alcaraz is the youngest tour-level champion since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori emerged victorious back in 2008.
3. He has the approval of tennis legend Rafael Nadal
Does there exist a higher honour than your childhood sporting idol tipping you for big things?
That’s what happened after Alcaraz came up against his compatriot and 20-time Grand Slam winner Rafael Nadal earlier this year in the second round of the Madrid Open.
While Nadal made light work eliminating Alcaraz from the tournament, the tennis great admitted that he was impressed by the teenager:
“When you make a salad and you are putting ingredients inside the salad, he has plenty of the ingredients to become a great player.”
“Be[ing] one of the best players in the world and fight for the most important titles is something very difficult, but I really believe that he’s one of the guys that can do it.”
4. He is coached by former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero
Teaming up with the right person at the right time makes all the difference when it comes to success in tennis.
At 15, a young Alcaraz began working with former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero at his Equelite Academy, and within the same year the pair linked up, the young talent turned professional.
While under his tutelage, the 2003 French Open winner has noted his student’s talent and strength:
“Since I met him when he was 14, 15, I knew of his potential, about his level,” Ferrero said to ESPN.
“But definitely to be that aggressive, you have to control yourself and be able to manage all the shots that you’ve got.”
“He’s still 18 years old, and he needs to get more mature, to control his emotions in there and to control when he has to go with 100 percent of his potential or when he has to use 80 percent to sometimes play with a lot more spin or more flat.”
“He’s on the way to order all these kind of things, but I think he’s in a good way to do it.”
5. Alcaraz dreams of being the very best
Come the conclusion of the U.S. Open, whatever that may be for Alcaraz, it is clear that the Spaniard will be well accustomed to the phrase “the youngest ever.”
That the teenager’s name is slotting nicely into sentences starting with the line signals the true extent of his potential.
Like all athletes though, Alcaraz dreams of more than possibility and potential.
He envisions the big time.
“My dream is to be the number one player in the world and to win a Grand Slam title.”
As to which of the majors he would like to clinch first in his quest for tennis supremacy, there was only one he had in mind (and the Spaniard may raise eyebrows with his answer):
“I adore Wimbledon, I prefer it so far to Roland-Garros.”