Rafael Nadal believes that Carlos Alcaraz is a ‘very special’ player with the ability to define an era but has had one crucial advantage over his rivals which could explain how the 19-year-old has achieved the No. 1 spot and bagged his first Grand Slam so quickly.
Alcaraz became the world’s youngest No. 1 after he bagged his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open back in September and has since become the talk of the tennis world and the ATP’s biggest rising star.
Alcaraz has already enjoyed more success than many of his rivals, including the likes of Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Nadal has put this down to the youngster’s hard and fast playing style as well as the advantageous timing of his arrival onto the scene.
‘’Normally what makes someone so special is being very good, nothing more," Nadal told Marca. "When I say that he is special, I mean that he is very fast, that he hits very hard, that he has a great drive and a great backhand and that he has the ability to be a great tennis player.’’
Nadal went on to suggest that Alcaraz has arrived at a time when the Big Three are less prominent, with Roger Federer’s recent retirement and himself and Novak Djokovic entering the final years of their careers, which has made it easier for the teen to make it to the top.
‘’If we can analyse it this way, because Carlos is very special and he is a player who I think will mark an era, I also say with total humility, and this must not be lost sight of, that when Zverev, [Daniil] Medvedev or Tsitsipas arrived, Federer, Djokovic and I were still at a very high level.
''We athletes also feed ourselves victories and for many years our rivals have been able to win very little and when you win, you improve.
‘’So, these new generations have more options than other rivals had at the time because now, beyond Roger's retirement, Novak and I are playing fewer and fewer tournaments.
‘’In summary, the new players, in addition to being very good, are capable of visualising victory in a way that the previous ones could not and that helps them a lot to improve as tennis players.
''I am going to give the example of David Ferrer, who was an incredible player but ran into us many times in very advanced rounds. He's one of the most consistent players we’ve ever had, but he never won a big one.’’
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