By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Sunday, May 28, 2023
Speed kills; in Carlos Alcaraz’s case pace is profound.
The rapid growth of Alcaraz’s mental game is a key component to his rise to world No. 1, says coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Meeting the media in Paris today on the 20th anniversary of his 2003 Roland Garros sweep of Martin Verkerk, former world No. 1 Ferrero says Alcaraz is “definitely” better now than last season when he won his maiden major in New York and made history as the youngest-ever year-end ATP No. 1.
The 20-year-old Alcaraz’s mental maturity is the main reason, says Ferrero.
“As a person, I would say he’s more mature. He’s 20 now, and of course also when you are on a team that people are older, I think you grow up a little bit faster than maybe with other people that are the same age as you,” Ferrero told the media at Roland Garros. “Yeah, as a player, I think he grows up like super fast on the court.
“He can, let’s say, read the matches a little bit better. Even before the match, like talking about the match, you can see that he’s more mature on all kind of areas on the court.
“I would say he’s better than last year. I think he has more experience. The experience that he’s won US Open and, you know, live the experience on the court that he did I think makes him grow faster than maybe other people, so definitely he’s a better player.”
Some Grand Slam champions have suggested Alcaraz will tune down his all-court aggression and play higher-percentage (read: more predictable) tennis as he grows older to reduce the stress on his body.
Rome runner-up Holger Rune, Alcaraz’s former junior doubles partner, said the Spanish phenom’s ripped physique and physicality empowers his aggression.
“I think he’s physically very, very strong. I would say probably one of the strongest in the game already,” Rune said of Alcaraz. “His tennis, it’s also very physical. I would say he’s using his physique very well.
“He’s playing aggressive, explosive tennis. I think his physique is a big part of that. If you didn’t have this strong physique, I don’t think you would be able to play as aggressive, explosive as he does. For sure it’s all combined, yeah.”
Two-time Madrid champion Alcaraz, who told Tennis Now he believe his greatest weapon is “my unpredictability”, said in his pre-Roland Garros presser he’s reading the game better now than he did last season which allows him to channel his explosiveness.
“Well, talking about tennis, I would say I’m the same player than last year, only change that Iwould say is that I’m more mature,” Alcaraz told the media in Paris. “Mentally I’m better. And I can read what happened on court better than last year. “For me, it’s really, really important, and I would say it’s the most different than last year.”
Alcaraz already owns one of the most complete games in the sport.
Coach Ferrero says Alcaraz has not yet scratched the surface of his full potential.
The question is: How will Alcaraz respond to the pressure of being top seed at a Grand Slam for the first time?
“I think of course won a Grand Slam already, 19 years old, now 20, is gonna help him to believe that he can make it again,” Ferrero said. “I think it’s all help, not more pressure. So that’s what we believe, and I think we are prepared to make a great tournament.
“Of course everybody can lose in first round, you don’t have a clue. But I think we play a very good clay season at the moment, and, you know, this is the last one, so we are gonna try to give our best to make the best tournament possible, for sure, with no pressure.”
Photo credit: Juan Carlos Ferrero Instagram