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Alcaraz – I don’t have any limits and don’t want to set any
Carlos Alcaraz’s blinding surge to the top-10 is the stuff of dreams, but the reality is that he will not let it go to his head.
What does being the ninth-youngest player in ATP history to crack the top 10 mean to Carlos Alcaraz? He doesn’t hesitate when asked. This is a young man that oozes love for the competition and isn’t afraid to stop and relish a hard-earned achievement.
“I’m glad to know that at 18 I’m in the top 10, and doing it on the same date as my idol Rafa is impressive,” the rising force told reporters in his native Spanish on Sunday after claiming his third title in as many months in Barcelona, 17 years after Rafael Nadal won Barcelona for the first time.
But Alcaraz is not one to hang on a note, however musical that note might be. Knowing a career is a body of work and each title an opus, he is preternaturally gifted at being ready to move on to the next steppingstone.
This is the mindset that has made him men’s tennis’ ultimate striver – and achiever – in 2022.
“I don’t have any limits, I don’t want to set any,” he said on Sunday. “I want to continue playing at the level I have and I think that if I continue like this I have many options to continue climbing. I want to continue enjoying myself on the court, I still don’t want to touch the ceiling.”
I’m a normal guy and fame won’t change me
After rallying from double match point down in the semi-finals, in the most improbable way, Alcaraz shifted into high gear to finish off Alex de Minaur. He then played his best match of the tournament in the final to topple Pablo Carreno Busta for the Barcelona Open title.
After it was said and done, the fans went wild for him. Alcaraz’s star power is so bright at the moment, those around the Spaniard have to wear shades to keep the glare from blinding them. But the teenager, who will turn 19 on May 5 (they grow up so fast, don’t they?) says he won’t let his own meteoric climb up the ATP rankings go to his head.
“I’ve always been a normal boy,” he said on Sunday. “Fame doesn’t scare me, I’m going to continue being the same as always, I’m not going to change the person I am.”
Joining a legendary list of compatriots on the roll of honor at Barcelona is a thrill, but it’s nothing to be cocky about. Alcaraz will have his name etched onto the same trophy as the great Manuel Santana, Manuel Orantes, his coach Juan Carlos Ferrero, Carlos Moya and the King of Clay Rafael Nadal.
It’s a head-spinning list of Spanish tennis royalty, but Alcaraz doesn’t appear awestruck by his achievements.
While satiated for the moment, he has that look in his eye – the look of a man who knows the journey is just beginning.
“I’ve always been a normal boy,” he said on Sunday. “Fame doesn’t scare me, I’m going to continue being the same as always, I’m not going to change the person I am.”— Carlos Alcaraz
“It means a lot, I’ve watched this tournament since I was a kid. I always wished to play in this tournament and of course be able to win this tournament,” Alcaraz said. “I’m really happy to be part of the (historic) Spanish list.”
Fight like its the first ball
Alcaraz had his doubts on Sunday, and he had to find his way back from the brink against de Minaur in the semi-finals. The forehand that he hit at double match point in the second set will go down as one of the most remarkable shots of the season, no doubt. It is a rare athlete that can summon a sense of clarity when dancing within a whisker of defeat.
Afterwards he spoke of the importance of perseverance.
“I think that in the semifinal I always thought it was possible to come back,” he said. “Thanks to my perseverance I have been able to improve and find my level. In the end it is about trying, failing and improving, and thanks to this I have raised my level in the semifinals and then in the final “
And he credited his family for teaching how to be a fighter – and a winner.
“The competitive and winning gene that I have comes from my family,” he said. “They have always insisted on it and I think that you always have to go for it. I always think of giving everything and that is what I have done today.”
A ringer from the get go
Alcaraz has played four ATP finals and won them all, a feat that none of the Big 3 were able to achieve. And Alcaraz has won them all in straight sets. Already we are seeing that he is a player who knows how to save his best for last.
Alcaraz – ATP Finals
- d. Gasquet, Umag, 2021 Umag 6-2 6-2
- d. Schwartzman, Rio 2022 6-4, 6-2
- d. Ruud, Miami 2022, 7-5, 6-4
- d. Carreno Busta 2022 Barcelona, 6-2, 6-2