Mats Wilander believes tennis has seen the rise of a new genuine superstar as Carlos Alcaraz won his maiden major at the US Open.
The 19-year-old has had a remarkable year, winning the Miami Masters and Madrid Masters as well as two other ATP 500s. He has now capped that off with a Grand Slam title and become the youngest ever world number one in ATP history.
Even more importantly, however, is the manner in which he has been doing it. Alcaraz’s tennis is fast and exciting, with him always willing to approach the net and take risks on the court.
That is endearing him to tennis fans all over the world, and former world number one Mats Wilander can only see his star rising even further from here.
“We will always remember this rise by Carlos Alcaraz,” Wilander told Eurosport. “I will always remember the great fight put up by Casper Ruud, making two Grand Slam finals in 2022, no.2 in the world. Carlos Alcaraz was going to get to world no.1 at some point but to see him do it here by winning is absolutely historic.
“Carlitos is so mature off the court in everything he says, which is why he’s so mature on the court. The two go hand in hand. It’s taken years of practice to get here but he’s only 19 so I think part of what he’s showing, he has to either have born with or from his parents. I’m sure Juan Carlos Ferrero has had a lot do with it but you still have to earn it. Unreal.”
The US Open final was a tight affair with opponent Casper Ruud playing some stunning tennis himself at times.
With Novak Djokovic absent, Roger Federer and Alexander Zverev injured, and Rafael Nadal well short of his best, it felt like tennis needed a new star to emerge and Alcaraz’s brand of tennis, as well as his on-court charisma, feels ideal to usher in a new era in the sport.
“Carlos has so much support, Casper Ruud got a lot of support as well because he tries so hard. But there is quite a big difference to how people react to Carlos. It doesn’t matter what he does, he still manages to get a smile in so it’s just infectious.
“Carlos’ creativity is unbelievable at 19-years-old. The only problem I see for Casper is Carlos Alcaraz because he’s not going anywhere for the next ten years.
“Daniil Medvedev started it last year when he beat Novak Djokovic and people started to believe. Obviously Novak not able to play this year, Roger Federer is out for now, Rafa wasn’t 100% and there were no points at Wimbledon.
"At the same time the most consistent player becomes no.1 and Casper Ruud is no.2 so I think it is a huge confidence boast for him. He will have to ask another two Grand Slam finals before people start to question when are you going to win one, he is safe for now.
“Alcaraz was a little bit more creative and what I think Carlitos has worked out is that you cannot rest on a lead, you got to keep going. That doesn’t mean you go aggressive on shots but his tactics are very aggressive on big shots. That is so mature for a 19-year-old to do. He will be involved in some of the greatest matches over the next ten years, I don’t care who he plays against.”
Carlos Alcaraz is now the second youngest US Open champion in history too, with only Pete Sampras doing it at a younger age.
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