Carlos Alcaraz is the perfect superstar at the perfect time for men’s tennis – SB Nation

Carlos Alcaraz skipped the line.

So often in sports, before a team or athlete has their breakthrough, you hear about paying dues, getting reps in the playoffs, failure before success; the old Michael-Jordan-who-has-to-pass-to-the-Pistons analogy. But sometimes true greatness is not so patient.

At 20, Alcaraz is already a two-time Grand Slam champion and, in 2022, he became the youngest world number one in men’s tennis history. When a meteoric rise like this occurs, statistics and superlatives begin to sprout like weeds in a neglected garden, but none better illustrates the progress than this: In the history of men’s tennis, only two players born in the ’90s have ever won twice. Grand Slams. Two.

Alcaraz, born in 2003, already has two slams. This means 13 years of players (probably 3 or 4 generations, in tennis time) have played their entire careers without smelling a Grand Slam trophy. Daniil Medvedev, one of the ’90s generation that has broken through, lost decisively to Carlos Alcaraz in this year’s Wimbledon semifinal (6-3, 6-3, 6-3).

Upon first seeing Alcaraz, with his electric movement, soft touch, rocket right hand, and silky dropshot, it was almost impossible not to put the cart before the horse. In the same way, Victor Wembanyama’s best-case scenario could look like Kevin Durant’s near-impossible comparisons to live up to. set With Giannis Antetokounmpo, Alcaraz’s game really has important pieces from the Big Three that have dominated tennis for the last 20 years.

And it’s not just the social media hype. Hear from Novak Djokovic, whom Alcaraz defeated (1-6, 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-4) on Sunday to capture his first Wimbledon title, discuss these exact topics.

When the greatest gamer of all time is talking about a 20-year-old phenomenon as an algebra problem to solve, you know we’ve found lightning hitting the bottle. Alcaraz is now 2-1 against Djokovic, with the only loss coming during a French Open where the Spaniard suffered from cramps. He is an enigma. Now. For the elite and all men alike. Djokovic does not lose on Center Court. Djokovic does not lose tiebreakers. Djokovic does not lose after winning the first set. Well, against Alcaraz, these historical things for sure may no longer be the case.

Already a decorated clay-court player and hard-court slam champion, the only small detail in Alcaraz’s game was the grass. Alcaraz fell in the second round of Wimbledon in 2021 before inching closer and ending his 2022 run in the round of 16. Few doubted that it could or even would happen, but how long would it take? The surface requires some navigation, and the season comes as fast as it goes. Only Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have won Wimbledon in the last 20 years. You don’t just battle your way to a title on Center Court.

In 2023, Alcaraz made the surface his own. The Spaniard won the grass-court title at the Queen’s Club over Alex de Minaur, an 18th-ranked Australian and a driving force in his own right. After doing more of the same en route to the Wimbledon final, dropping just two sets in six matches against a tough draw featuring two Top 10 players and a former tournament finalist in Matteo Berrettini, the final boss was waiting.

While Djokovic was content to play behind the baseline and model his game more like a wall, the young Spaniard showed the tools to hit with it, move with it, and most importantly, add the extra team of winners. and amazing shots to take evenly played points, shake them out of their complacency, and finish them decisively, on your terms.

For Djokovic, a 23-time Grand Slam champion, it had to feel like his own reflection was punching him in the face. Does he look like a man who, at the time, was on a 10-year winning streak on Center Court?

All-time greats tend to draw strong reactions from fans and players alike, and Alcaraz is no different. He had fellow ATP players tweeting like young juniors.

That’s Dennis Shapovalov, 24, ranked number 23 in the world, calling a player four years younger a legend. With a 0-1 record against Alcaraz, he has also taken a fancy.

With the bar so high, the natural question of speech is how many slams can he win from here. Pete Sampras’ total of 14 was the standard for the Big Three, and they all ended up eclipsing him and reaching 20 or more. John McEnroe, commenting on yesterday’s game, wouldn’t be set on a number and it seemed at first that perhaps he didn’t want to be too flippant about what it would take to get to those heights. Thinking back on it a day later, maybe what he really wanted to avoid was putting a roof over someone who might be there long enough to play with his opponent’s child.

McEnroe added that he just wanted to see Alcaraz healthy moving forward as injuries could be the only real threat to derail this fireworks show that is poised to take over the tour for years to come, no matter how old it is. interested in playing. For what it’s worth, he seems to have the right people around him. Juan Carlos Ferrero, a former world No. 1 and French Open champion, began coaching Alcaraz at age 16. On Sunday, he watched his trainee top his career slam total.

He probably wasn’t that upset about it.

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Raven Asher

Hey there, I'm Raven Asher, a writer and blogger currently studying at McMaster University. My passion lies in arts and culture, and I love exploring and sharing my thoughts on different aspects of this field through my writing. I've been fortunate enough to have my articles featured on several blogs and news websites, which has allowed me to connect with readers from all over the world. Apart from writing, I'm also an avid traveler, and I love experiencing different cultures and learning new things. Join me on my journey as I explore the world and share my insights on everything art and culture!

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