By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Friday, May 26, 2023
Grand Slam tennis is an educational experience for Carlos Alcaraz.
Contesting just the ninth major tournament of his career, Alcaraz stands atop the Roland Garros field as a Grand Slam top seed for the first time in his career.
So what’s the difference between today’s world No. 1 and the Alcaraz who reached the Roland Garros quarterfinals last June before bowing to Alexander Zverev 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(7) in a tremendous three hour, 18-minute fight?
Though he isn’t hitting the books, Alcaraz says he’s more well read this year.
“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.”
The reigning US Open champion opens Roland Garros against 159th-ranked Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli.
Alcaraz says he’s still adjusting to the new view as top seed in Paris.
“For me, it’s still crazy to see myself in top 1 seed in a Grand Slam,” Alcaraz said. “But for me, at same time is great. Is something that I work for to be there. Yeah, I’m really happy to be No. 1 seed here in Roland Garros.”
Madrid champion Alcaraz carries a 20-2 clay-court record into Paris with his lone losses coming to Cameron Norrie in the Rio final and a shock setback to 135th-ranked Fabian Marozsan in Rome.
In retrospect, that Rome loss may have been a blessing in disguise in that it gave Alcaraz time to gear up for Roland Garros.
“I had like five days practicing in the academy at home that is really helpful for me to be away from tournaments a little bit, have more intensity practice, physical,” Alcaraz said. “And of course in tennis that used to do this year, because I didn’t have more than four days to practice, just to play matches and matches, and for me have this time to prepare Roland Garros as good as I did these past days. It was great.”
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