The great thing about tennis is that its history can be divided into eras where certain landmark players made their impact. It would seem as if the book will soon be closing on the Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic era, which means that younger players will have the opportunity to step in and create a legacy of their own. One of the prime candidates to define the next generation of the sport is Carlos Alcaraz from Spain.
There are a lot of ways to bet these days, whether it’s playing online pokies in Australia or wagering on Alcaraz to take over tennis in the next couple of years. His rapid ascension over the last 18 months or so gives him an excellent chance to reach his lofty potential.
We’ll take a look at three things Alcaraz needs to do in order to become one of the best tennis players of all time.
Overcome The Pressure
At the end of the day, truly special tennis resumes are built based on how well a player performs during the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Major tournaments receive the most attention from the tennis world, and career-defining wins take place on these stages. Alcaraz has already experienced the thrill of winning the U.S. Open last summer, and will need to build on that experience in order to keep moving his career forward.
When Alcaraz takes the court for the French Open in May, it will be nearly eight months since his last major tournament appearance. The Spaniard was not able to compete in the Australian Open in January but will need to re-establish his rhythm at Roland Garros. There’s a pretty big difference between playing at center court during a regular event and sharing the court with the game’s best with nationally televised coverage.
At 19 years old, Alcaraz is still very young, and will have plenty of time to experience a multitude of scenarios that will help him improve. It will be intriguing to watch him handle being a player that is well-known, rather than an up and comer whose name was largely obscure. How he handles the pressure in the fifth set of a major tournament will largely determine how people remember him.
Obtain The Mental Edge
The greatest tennis players of all time have all featured some superior physical attribute or a skill that allowed them to maintain their elite level of play. These factors are dissected with a fine tooth comb heading into any match, as analysts and players themselves need to dissect strengths and weaknesses before they take the court. However, the best tennis players also have an advantage mentally, which can manifest itself in a couple of different ways.
Lining up across from Pete Sampras, Roger Federer or John McEnroe can be intimidating for an opponent, and that experience can already set someone back before the first serve. The nervousness of knowing that a player’s best will be needed to even have a chance at defeating a premier player can work in the latter’s advantage, and Alcaraz will eventually need to get to that point. He’s still at the beginning of his career, but it’s possible that he could have such an advantage in the next two or three years.
Alcaraz will also need to master the cerebral aspects of tennis in order to sustain a high level of play. Since he is a teenager, stamina and endurance are not currently an issue, but conditioning and fitness will come into play as he gets older. He will have to learn how to defeat opponents with pinpoint strategy rather than overpowering athleticism.
Chart Own Course
It’s going to be very easy for someone to look at Alcaraz’s background and compare him to Rafael Nadal. The two players both hail from Spain, and Alcaraz has leaped on to the scene just as Nadal is in the twilight of his career. There’s a compelling torch-passing narrative that can be perpetuated here, and it would make some sense.
However, it will be important for Alcaraz to remain focused on his own specific journey, rather than the path Nadal took. There’s a good chance that there will never be another Nadal, so Alcaraz should be committed to becoming the best version of himself, which has already garnered results. In an age where social media can intrude its way into the conversation, this may be easier said than done for the teenager.
He does have an experienced coach in fellow countryman Juan Carlos Ferrero, who has a few accolades to his name as well. Ferrero’s development plan will go a long way in determining how Alcaraz navigates the early portion of his promising tennis career. Ferrero has also worked with another current top tennis player, Alexander Zverev.