Carlos Alcaraz: Five things to know about Spain's new tennis sensation

After his incredible win in the second round of the French Open on 25 May, talk is turning to Carlos Alcaraz’s chances of winning his first Grand Slam. An expert on clay with a fierce right hand and an explosive game, the Spaniard is currently sixth in the world rankings. But how much do you know about the new tennis star? Discover five things about the talented teenager below. 

4 min By Marta Martín
Carlos Alcaraz of Spain reacts against Juan Ignacio Londero of Argentina during the Men's Singles First Round match on Day 1 of The 2022 French Open
(Picture by Ryan Pierse)

How old is Carlos Alcaraz?

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Carlos Alcaraz is not his success, but his age. He has already won two Masters 1000 tournaments in 2022 (Miami and Madrid) and is sixth in the world ranking - all at 19 years old.

He celebrated his birthday in May by beating Cameron Norrie in the round of 16 of the Madrid Open, before besting Rafa Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev to be crowned champion on home soil. Incredibly, Alcaraz is the only player in history to have beaten legends Nadal and Djokovic in the same clay-court tournament.

Carlos Alcaraz's childhood

To understand the Alcaraz of today, you have to go back to his past.

The tennis player was born in El Palmar (Murcia), a small village with around 24,000 inhabitants. He grew up in a family with an affinity for tennis - his grandfather was the first member of a tennis club and his father, a semi-pro who finished runner up in the Spanish Championship, also ran a tennis academy.

With that background, Alcaraz and his three brothers had little choice but to play tennis - particularly growing up in Spain with a role model like Nadal, who won his first Grand Slam in 2005 when Alcaraz was only two years old.

A year later, the three-year-old Alcaraz received his first tennis racket - and everything began there.

"If it’s happening, it is not by chance. Since he was a child it was clear to him what he wanted to be. He had a very defined vision of how far he wanted to go, and that’s not easy because as a child or adolescent your desires tend to fluctuate,” Josefina Cutillas, a sports psychologist who supported Alcaraz from age eight to 16 explained in an article in Spanish daily, El Pais.

And what he “wanted to be” is closer to him than ever now. Because Alcaraz didn’t want to be good, he wanted to be the best.

Who trains Carlos Alcaraz?

Alcaraz is trained by Juan Carlos Ferrero, a former World No. 1 and two-time Olympian who won the French Open in the same year his pupil was born.

Ferrero has trained Alcaraz since the summer of 2018.

In an interview for Teledeporte after Alcaraz won the Miami Masters 1000, Ferrero explained the reasons he chose to train 'Carlitos'.

"He was something different from what I was used to. It is not the same as training Alexander Zverev, who back then was No. 3 in the world. With Carlos, we still had everything to do. He was a youngster that had a lot of potential but was very untidy, and I think that's something we have improved. I feel the level of Carlos’s game is still at 60% of his maximum."

More than just a youngster, Alcaraz is now truly a young star.

Rafa Nadal is his idol

The only player in history to have won 21 Grand Slams was destined to be a role model for Alcaraz, who grew up watching all of Nadal's successes.

At just 16 years old, Alcaraz spoke about comparisons between himself and Nadal, and how risky making those comparisons could be.

"It is not easy being compared to Nadal, because both generations end up losing. He is an idol and there is only one of him. I continue working hard to be a professional tennis player,” he told TennisWorld.

"I want to be like Rafa. My game is more like Roger Federer's, but my role model is Rafa because my game is more suited to clay," he continued.

This year in Madrid, Alcaraz beat his idol Nadal for the first time in his career. And Nadal only had good things to say about him.

"I am happy for him, everyone knows the level of tennis he is capable of reaching. I’m really glad that my country has found another incredible player that Spain can rely on for many years," he said in a press conference.

Milestones in Carlos Alcaraz's career

  • He turned pro in 2018
  • His highest world ranking is sixth (since 9 May 2022)
  • He has won two ATP Masters 1000 in Miami and Madrid. Both were won in 2022, making him the second-youngest tennis player to win more than one Masters 1000, after Nadal in 2005.
  • He won his first ATP Tour title, the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag, in 2021. In doing so, he became the youngest ATP Tour winner since Kei Nishikori (18) in 2008.
  • He has won four ATP titles in 2022. Apart from the two Masters 1000 tournaments, Alcaraz achieved his first ATP 500 in Rio de Janeiro, where he was crowned the youngest ATP 500 winner since 2000. In 2022 he also won the Conde Godó (Barcelona).

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