Tuesday, June 18, 2024

French Open 2024: Carlos Alcaraz drawing confidence from preparation in hunt for third Grand Slam title

For decades, the Big Three of tennis — Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic — seemed unbeatable, but Carlos Alcaraz is one of the young players who has been approaching their spotlight. It’s a prime opportunity for Alcaraz, as Federer retired in 2022, Nadal is expected to retire after this season, and current world No. 1 Djokovic withdrew from the French Open due to a knee injury.

Alcaraz, who in 2021 became the youngest world No. 1 in men’s ATP rankings history at age 19, is the frontrunner to replace Nadal as the next Spanish tennis star. They have only faced each other three times, and the now 21-year-old still uses their first meeting in the 2021 Madrid Open Round of 32 as a learning lesson because Nadal crushed him, 6-1, 6-2. 

“It was a scary moment for me,” said Alcaraz, a cover athlete on the TopSpin 2K25 tennis video game. “I wasn’t prepared that much and the score shows how scared and nervous I was.”

The following year, Nadal won their next encounter at Indian Wells, but Alcaraz redeemed himself with a win in Madrid. Alcaraz never got to play against Federer, and Djokovic currently holds a 3-2 lead in their all-time series. 

Alcaraz admitted he is a little bit superstitious and will do things such as visit the same restaurants that bring him “luck” during a tournament. However, the massive success in his young career has come from simple and consistent habits. 

“Practicing, practicing,” Alcaraz said. “I normally practice in the morning and I finish everything in the morning. Then I have my afternoon to rest, to do my things, hang out with my friends a little bit. But in general, it’s practicing and resting.”

Alcaraz earned a ticket to the French Open quarterfinals with a 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win over Felix Auger-Aliassime. His opponent Tuesday will be Stefanos Tsitsipas, who Alcaraz beat at Roland Garros last year in the same round. 

To advance and compete for his third Grand Slam title, Alcaraz will be relying on the preparation that’s gotten him to already great lengths. 

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