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By Richard Pagliaro | Friday, August 26, 2022

 
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World No. 4 Carlos Alcaraz made history at the 2021 US Open. What's in store for his encore? We caught up with the Miami Open champion for this interview.

Photo credit: Sarah Stier/Getty

Standing on a glass court in Queens, Carlos Alcaraz considers shattering a major glass ceiling in Flushing Meadows.

Alcaraz joined fellow Babolat ambassadors Felix Auger-Aliassime and US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez launching the Pure Aero and hitting with New York City kids yesterday at Court 16, an innovative tennis club in Long Island City billed as the first tennis club in the world to use customizable LED-illuminated glass-surfaced courts.

More: Babolat Stars Launch Pure Aero

Kids and pros alike are pumped to see Alcaraz light up New York City again.

Given the fact the world No. 4 has posted a 44-9 record this season capturing four titles, including Masters 1000 crowns in Miami and Madrid, you can understand why Wimbledon finalist Nick Kyrgios picked Alcaraz to win this US Open.

Novak Djokovic

Asked if he agrees Alcaraz can win the US Open, Hall of Famer John McEnroe replied "the short answer is yes" before reminding the media the Spanish sensation will be playing just his eighth Grand Slam main-draw next week and may well require a bit more seasoning to capture a maiden major.

"Alcaraz is certainly the guy that's made the biggest impact the last year," McEnroe told the media in an ESPN Zoom call to promote the network's US Open coverage starting at noon on Monday on ESPN. "Moved the needle as much as anyone.

"Plays with a joy that I think we all love and has made incredible advances in the last year. But it's a lot to ask for him to win it. But certainly he has a shot."

One reason so many are so high on Alcaraz is he has all the shots—and the guts to go for them at the right time.

Last summer, an 18-year-old Alcaraz  rocked Arthur Ashe Stadium and shocked Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Riding his crackling topspin forehand and an audacious drop shot, Alcaraz stunned the third-seeded Tsitsipas 6-3, 4-6, 7-6(2), 0-6, 7-6(5) in a coming-of-age US Open third-round conquest.  

The Spanish teenager made history as the youngest man to defeat a Top-3 US Open seed since 1973—and the youngest man to reach the round of 16 in Flushing Meadows since a 17-year-old Michael Chang and 18-year-old Pete Sampras did it back in 1989. 



Two days after surprising Tsitsipas, Alcaraz outlasted German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk in five sets to become the youngest quarterfinalist in US Open Open Era history. Alcaraz’s 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0 victory on Grandstand made him the youngest player to earn back-to-back five-set victories at a Slam since Michael Chang at the 1988 US Open.

Alcaraz reached the Roland Garros quarterfinals in June and bowed to Jannik Sinner in the Wimbledon fourth round in July.

Now, he's aiming to break that ceiling and reach a maiden major semifinal. If he does it, he could face tennis hero Rafa Nadal in what would be a US Open blockbuster.

Obviously, we're getting way ahead of ourselves projecting second-week match-ups, but Grand Slam draws tend to bring out buzzing euphoria and binges of speculation.

We caught up with Carlos Alcaraz at the official Babolat Aero Pure launch at Court 16 for this Q&A where he talks US Open goal, the best advice he's received and his role in a future rivalry that has the tennis world buzzing.



Tennis Now: Carlos, American fans really respond to you. The energy at your 2021 US Open matches and in your Miami title run last spring was just crazy. How does your connection to the crowd inspire or energize you?

Carlos Alcaraz: Yes, it's very important to have the fans with you—supporting you—it's really, really important. I love to play in front of the USA crowd. They have a great energy and that can help you in the bad moments.

Every moment in each match I feel very grateful to live with that kind of energy to have the support of the fans. It means a lot to me.

TN: Carlos, how do you feel physically? Coming off your historic performance in New York last summer, what is your goal for this US Open?

Carlos Alcaraz: I've worked really, really hard to be ready. I feel ready physically and mentally, you know. Yeah, I feel great. I feel ready.

Of course, the goal for this US Open is to try to reach the semifinal to reach one more round of a Grand Slam. So I am going to try to go for it. I feel great.

TN: I've really enjoyed watching your matches vs. Jannik Sinner. It's so much fun to watch two young players, fantastic athleticism, push each other all over the court. What do you feel about that rivalry with Jannik? How do you bring out the best in each other?

Carlos Alcaraz: Jannik is an excellent player. He's amazing. Obviously, he's a nice guy off court, which is really, really important to me. Of course we have played the great matches. I think both of us have great levels.

So will we have a rivalry in the future? I hope so. And I hope that everyone, all the fans, enjoy watching our matches. Right now, it's 2 to 1 in favor of him. So right now, I'm gonna go for 2 to 2.

TN: In your career, you've had your dad and of course former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero as your coach. What is the best tennis advice your father or Juan Carlos gave to you?

Carlos Alcaraz: They taught me in tennis there are a lot of tough moments, pressure moments, you know? And in those moments, you have to go for it. To be courageous, to go for it, to be aggressive.

If you win it or you lose it, after the point you have the chance to think about it in a positive way. You can tell yourself that "Okay you went for it and that's all you can do." So the best advice I've gotten is to go for it.

TN: Last question, one of the reasons I love watching you is you have an answer from anywhere on the court. You can stay back and rally with power, you can play angles, you can play drop shots and touch shots, you can play net, you can serve-and-volley. My question: What do you feel is the strength of your game and what shot or play gives you the greatest satisfaction or joy on court? Like some of the gets you made vs. Norrie had fans going crazy.

Carlos Alcaraz:  Well, those are tough questions. I would say [my strength is] the opponent doesn't know what I am going to do in a moment. So it can be a little unpredictable.

I can do a drop shot or play from the baseline, so I would say that the unpredictable is a strength because you can do a great drop shot or play a baseline game they're not sure what is coming. I would say the shot that gives me the most joy is the drop shot or the forehand down the line. Yeah, those are the shots I like to do.

 

 

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