Young gun focus: Carlos Alcaraz

THERE is a wealth of developing international talent making its way up the ranks across both the ATP and WTA Tours, with this series looking into some of the high flyers of late who have shot up the rankings in recent months. This week, we take a look at explosive Spaniard, Carlos Alcaraz.

>>READ: ATP Teenage Stars: Carlos Alcaraz

Still just 18-year-old, Alcaraz is undoubtably one of the highest flying teens in the world right now sitting at number 38 on the world rankings and seemingly yet to show any signs of stopping. Likened to Rafael Nadal on the junior tour for his clay court prowess and impressive skill, Alcaraz has take a step up from his junior days – as recent as last year to have an immediate impact on the senior tour. Factor in that Alcaraz is the youngest player to rank within the top 40 since a 17-year-old Nadal in 2007, and the comparisons continue. He currently sits at a career high after consistently placing around the 140 mark in January this year, and has not skipped a beat since breaking the top 100 in late May 2021, steadily getting high up the rankings as his stature and confidence grows with it.

A huge 2020 has benefited Alcaraz’s form greatly, with the teen last year participating in Challenger events instead of Tour-level and progressing his own game as much as possible before stepping up to the big time. With three titles to his name last year, it did not take long for Alcaraz to make it count on Tour, clinching his maiden senior title in June at the ATP 250 event in Umag, Croatia, defeating veteran Frenchman Richard Gasquet in the final. Not long after, the teen achieved automatic entry to the US Open and made it count, defeating Cameron NorrieArthur RindeknechPeter Gojowczyk and – perhaps most importantly – third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on his way to a quarter finals berth. While Alcaraz eventually was forced to retire in the early stages of his quarter final against Felix Auger-Aliassime, it was his performance against Tsitsipas that really caught the eye, winning a fifth set tiebreaker to earn his chance in the second week. With the teen talent getting better and better each time a grand slam comes along, reaching the second round at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon, the Round of 32 at the Roland Garros and the quarter finals at the US Open, there is no doubt he is one to watch despite being likely to sit out the remainder of the month and reset for October/November.

Throughout 2021, Alcaraz holds a 22-14 win ratio and $988,532 USD in prize money, with his growth over the past year impressive to say the least. While his clay court prowess is unquestionable, he has shown the capacity to stretch that impressive form to the hard court and in time could prove unstoppable across all surfaces to become the next Nadal – or even better, make a name of his own.

Picture credit: TPN/Getty Images

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