Nadal's successor

The irruption of Carlos Alcaraz illuminates the future of a Spanish tennis that even Rafa himself did not see clear after the last Davis: "We need a relief."


"Carlos Alcaraz has become, with the endorsement of his results and his game, not only the great hope of Spanish tennis, but also Rafael's natural replacement." I have borrowed the phrase from Toni Nadal, which thus started his column on December 26 in El País. The projection of the Murcian has not gone unnoticed on the circuit. In fact, the ATP awarded him the Revelation Player award of the last season, an award voted by tennis players. In February 2020, Alcaraz already made headlines at the age of 16 when he achieved his first victory in his debut in a final draw, beating Albert Ramos, then 41st in the world, in Rio de Janeiro. A little less than a year has passed and The young pearl once again captures interest by overcoming the Australian Open qualifier. Alcaraz has achieved the passport to his first Grand Slam with 17 years, eight months and eight days. Only Arantxa Sánchez Vicario and Rafael Nadal disembarked younger. Bigger words . Its irruption illuminates the future of a Spanish tennis that even Nadal himself did not see clearly. "We need a relief," he said after winning the Davis Cup in 2019.

His emergence into the elite opens up some parallel debates. On the one hand, about managing pressure at his age. Uncle Toni himself, who knows something about forging a star, opposes the creation of a “bubble” of protection around the athlete, because “all those who want to stand out will have to endure a pressure that will accompany them throughout their careers”. And also because he will have to live with "the inevitable comparison" with Nadal. In this sense, you do have to be cautious with your expectations, because one thing is to aspire to win a Grand Slam or fight for number one as did your mentor, Juan Carlos Ferrero, something within the reach of very few, and quite another is to match to Rafa, one of the best in history, perhaps the best, something only within the reach of the gods of sport.

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