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“Both on and off the court, I feel more mature” – Alcaraz returns to Barcelona as defending champion
The Spaniard begins his quest to defend a title on the ATP Tour for the first time in Barcelona this week
Carlos Alcaraz is back on the ATP Tour this week having missed the first big clay court event of the season in Monte-Carlo. The 19-year-old is playing in Barcelona this week where he is the defending champion at the ATP 500 event and believes he has matured both on and off the court since his triumph 12 months ago.
“Maturity,” Alcaraz said when asked what has changed since his win last year, as quoted by the ATP Tour. “Both on and off the court, I feel more mature, I read the situation on court better so I can change something if it’s going badly. That’s the only difference I see in myself compared to last year. I feel the same in terms of shots.”
Alcaraz has won eight ATP singles titles in his young career so far but has yet to defend a title on the tour. However, the Spaniard is choosing to keep his focus away from that.
“We’ll be thinking about everything, apart from defending the title,” he said, “Barcelona is a place I love playing in, where I have really amazing memories, not just from last year, but also from playing when I was young. I’m going to try and avoid that pressure to defend the title. I’m a player who looks at the route to the final, but only briefly. But my focus is on the first round, and it will stay there until I’ve played it.”
Every point is a battle, you have to play tactically and that’s the great thing about playing on this surfaceCarlos Alcaraz
After playing the Sunshine Double (Indian Wells and Miami) in the United States, Alcaraz is excited about playing on clay, a surface on which he has won five of his eight career titles, including the Buenos Aires title in February.
“To me, playing on clay is like being in a battle and that’s what I like about it. Every point is a battle, you have to play tactically and that’s the great thing about playing on this surface.”
After a first round bye, Alcaraz begins his campaign in Barcelona against Nuno Borges and he is not taking any match for granted.
“Every match is huge and every player in the draw can beat me, no problem,” he said. “I have to stay focused and play my best in every match. I don’t feel like a favourite at all, every match is huge, and I have to play as well as possible.”