ATP Madrid – A special week and Alcaraz sends a message: “I’m ready to win a Grand Slam”

There are key events in the history of tennis. Dates that we remember and that forge the destiny of a champion. Carlos Alcaraz will not forget this week of May 2022, “the best of his life” so far by his own admission, which saw him assert himself a little more like the monster that we sensed. At 19 years and three days old, he now already has five titles to his credit, including two in Masters 1000. But this Madrid coronation has something more, firstly because of the pedigree of those he knocked down.
By beating Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev in a row, Alcaraz became the youngest player to beat three Top 5 members in a single tournament. Add to that the support of an electric Caja Magica and the imprint becomes indelible. “It’s a great feeling to be able to beat these players. Beat two of the best players in history and then Zverev, the world number 3. He’s a great player. Watching Rafa lift this trophy in the past gave me a lot of energy to work hard for this moment. It’s really special to win this tournament which is the first one I came to when I was a child at 7 or 8 years old“, he dropped after his triumph.

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Already a big one, especially mentally

During this week, the Murcian has already established himself as a great player, from his ability to adapt to his approach to matches through his state of mind on the court. He first had to get used to the altitude conditions in Madrid, before these magnified his game. Struck during a training set by Djokovic in preparation – he was laughing about it -, Alcaraz looked for his tennis during his first two rounds, without ever getting frustrated, however, despite unforced errors in spades.

And as soon as the very serious things started, he raised his level because the occasion demanded it. Diminished by a painful ankle against Nadal in the quarter, he found the resources in him to continue and ignore it. Led by a set by the world number 1 in half, he always believed in his chances when so many others would have lowered their heads. Hard to hurt, he mentally put himself in the conditions to go for the win in the final.

Because even if he benefited from a good night of recovery, he had just chained two fights, including a monumental one, and six hours of high intensity tennis in two days. “I woke up with my right ankle more swollen and had a blister on my foot that had become infected. The start of the day was complicated, it hurt a little when I walked. But I believe in myself: I always say that I don’t play finals, I win them“, he launched in a press conference. And for good reason, he is now five out of five in his matches for the title.

Zverev praises Alcaraz: “Right now you are the best player in the world”

Favorite at Roland? Not a pressure, a source of motivation

If Alcaraz is already a big name, it’s also because others say so. From the praise of Nadal and Djokovic to the tribute of Zverev who designates him as the best player of the moment, he is served. But he refuses to be intoxicated. “Djokovic is the world number 1. It’s not because I won in Barcelona and here that I consider myself the best. Tomorrow (Monday), I will be number 6, there are five players ahead. I still have to improve, I can progress in all areas and there are no limits. Rafa, Novak don’t stagnate, they continue to progress.”

Because the animal looks ahead. And if this Madrid week will probably leave an indelible mark, it is because it is already a memory on which to build. Second in the Race (ranking since January 1, 2022) a tiny 70 points behind Nadal, Alcaraz can look the legends straight in the eye and the next objective is clear: to win Roland-Garros. He has also decided to ignore Rome to treat his ankle and give himself every possible chance of success.

I believe I am ready to win a Grand Slam. Roland-Garros is a special tournament. Last year, it was the first Grand Slam in which I went until the 3rd round. This time, I think people will see me as a favourite, but I don’t take it as an extra pressure, more like a source of motivation. I want to go to Paris to show that I can play well in Grand Slam. This title gives me confidence to come to Roland-Garros with energy.” A good hearer…

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