Roland Garros | Alcarass attracts more attention than Nadal and Djokovic

(Paris) For the first time in a year, both Novak Djokovic and Raphael Nadal have entered the same major tournament. And yet Roland-Garros focuses on Carlos Alcarass, a teenager without a Grand Slam title.

Posted at 10:26 AM

Howard Fendrich
Associated Press

There are many reasons to monitor Djokovic and Nadal when the game starts on Sunday. Apparently, these are two sports greats who have met each other more often than everyone else on the men’s side since the beginning of the professional era, including nine times Roland-Garros.

After Thursday’s draw, they could meet in the quarter-finals this year, if at all, then a collision with Alcaraz is possible in the semi-finals.

Nadal is a 13-time Paris champion, holder of the men’s record 21 Grand Slam trophy, and has only recently returned from a rib injury while fighting chronic pain in his left foot that prevented him from participating in the Wimbledon and US Open. per year.

“Suddenly, the third sown Alexander Zverev commented, seeing Nadal training on the spot, his forhend is 30 km / h faster. It moves easier. Something on this field makes him play 30% better. »

As for Djokovic, he is the world number one, defending champion on the red clay Roland-Garros track, with 20 draws tied for Roger Federer, and he missed the Australian Open in January (where Nadal won) for not being vaccinated. . COVID-19. The international competitions in France and Wimbledon allow him to take part.

“Tennis fans and major sporting tournaments always want the best players in the world,” Djokovic said. From that point of view, it makes sense. »

Restoration

However, Alcaraz – 28: 3 with four season records in 2022 and already the sixth place in the world – is very exciting.

“He’s definitely special,” Djokovic continued. He is the best player in the world so far, without a doubt this year … He is a really complete player. He can play both attack and defense. »

It has been going on for some time and reached a crescendo when Alcarass beat Nadal, then favorite of Djokovic, and finally Zvereva to win the Madrid Masters in early May. No one had ever ruled out Djokovic and Nadal in a single clay tournament.

Of course, there are other news stories in the next two weeks. Naomi Osaka’s return to Paris after overcoming anxiety and depression and a mental break a year ago; the attempt by the new 1st place leader Iga Sviateka to win the second Roland-Garros title while she is in the 28 wins series; Former No. 1 Simon Halepa’s new partnership with Patrick Mouratoglu, who coached Serena Williams (will she ever return to the courts?)

But nothing beats the interest sparked by Alcaraz, a player with seven wins in a row against the top 10 opponents, with a powerful serve and flowing punches, dancer footwork, drops that are served from both the forehand and the obverse.

As Djokovic said, “He is a sports speaker.”

This is partly because Alcaraz is the next big thing to be considered talented, hardworking and motivated enough to reach the top of tennis. This is partly because he is so young, on May 5, 19; none of Spain’s Nadala had entered the top ten in the world since 2005.

“Undoubtedly, all new things are much more interesting than old ones,” Nadal said. When you see a new car, it always looks better. When you see a new phone, it always looks better than the old one. »

Changing guard?

So the big question that has been waiting for some time: who will take over from the Big Three – Nadal (36 next week), Djokovic (35 on Sunday, the first day of the Roland-Garros Main Event) and Federer (August 41 after several right knee surgeries and since last year’s Wimbledon)?

“The situation is changing. We are also getting older,” said Nadal. The new generation is coming into effect. ”

In fact, not so strong.

Let’s evaluate: Djokovic and Nadal have won 11 of the last 13 Grand Slam titles for men.

In women’s tennis, on the other hand, the reality is quite different: since 2016, no player has won more than one major title. And Paris offers an example of such diversity at the top: the last six Roland-Garros winners have it all. won the first Grand Slam title.

Alcaraz hopes to win a place at this national club by the end of the tournament.

So far, he has made it to only one quarterfinals of the big tournament, the US Open in September. He only played for Roland-Garros once, reaching third place last year.

Alcarass, coached by 2003 Roland-Garros winner Juan Carlos Ferrero, says he is trying to turn every one’s expectations into motivation rather than pressure.

“I’m really looking forward to going to Paris,” Alcarass admitted, “(and) fighting for the Grand Slam.”

Georgie Collins

"Falls down a lot. Writer. Passionate alcohol maven. Future teen idol. Hardcore music practitioner. Food fanatic. Devoted travel fan."

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