In Indian Wells the action has already started – the first matches were decided between Wednesday and Thursday, at the opening of the tournament – but in reality the show started before. At the moment in which Carlos Alcaraz set foot in the Californian desert, the crowd moved to the training area to closely follow the mischief that the Murcian drew during training with the American Frances Tiafoe, a guy with a good sense of humor, good fitter; and, once there, the fan was able to verify that the Spaniard –19 years of pure Generation Z– has not only passed the cotton test and will be able to compete in the first Masters 1000 of the season, but that he is arriving, because so says the protagonist, “a complete”.
Behind him, the coach Juan Carlos Ferrero –joined after the South American tour in February– was satisfied with the positive response from his player’s leg, who 12 days earlier had called for a truce in the middle of the Rio de Janeiro final. The hamstring protested during the duel against Cameron Norrie and the mishap added questions to a situation that requires analysis: there are three injuries in four months, from the abdominal (November, Paris-Bercy) to the right leg, going through the intermediate setback with the tear in the semimebranosus of the same extremity (on December 4) that prevented him from playing the Australian Open and delayed its premiere until Buenos Aires. In Argentina, again on sand, title in the pocket, more whiplash –nine games in 12 days between that first date and Brazil– and again on edge.
The resonance, however, revealed that on this occasion the damage was less –distension, between 7 and 10 days out– and that if everything went well, only Acapulco and the exhibition in Las Vegas would have to be ruled out. Two tournaments in limbo, but good news. Following the instructions of the physio Juanjo Moreno for recovery, Alcaraz has managed to arrive in California on time. But he has done it his way: stepping on the accelerator, full throttle. He does not save fuel or skimp when it comes to putting his foot down, as if his race were an endless straight line and there was no brake pedal in his car. It is him against his instinct, that inner voice that constantly invites him to go to the limit.
Fear? Who said fear?
“The truth is that I feel very good. The disorder is plenty and I feel very good, the leg is going well. Confidence is very good, I have a lot of confidence in myself right now. I think I am prepared to play here one hundred percent ”, he pointed out when he arrived in the Coachella Valley, the preserve of magnate Larry Ellison, in a statement made to the organization. “He was able to train with great intensity, test great points. I have gone normal, let’s say; I’ve slid and gone a full. I haven’t felt any pain, so I really want to make my debut and be able to play one hundred percent,” added the man from El Palmar, who will meet at dawn from Saturday to Sunday (around 4:30 p.m., Movistar) with the Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis (6-1 and 6-1 to Brandon Holt).
Alcaraz will do it with the idea of repeating the good role he played a year ago, when only Rafael Nadal could stop him in that duel dominated by the wind in which the Mallorcan (36 years old) had to squeeze himself so much that he ended up modifying a crack in his ribs . It was the prelude to the great hatching. From then on, one flash after another, tennis history: Miami, Godó, Madrid, the US Open and the earliest rise to number one, a position that he aspires to recover these days, given that Novak Djokovic is out of the picture for His to get vaccinated against the covid – The United States does not grant him the special permission he requested to access the country – and, therefore, the accounts would guarantee him a return to the top if he raises the trophy on the 19th.
return to hard court
“It’s a good goal and I’m going to go for it. I love this tournament and I hope to achieve a great result ”, says he ambitious. “I don’t consider myself a favorite because I haven’t played on a hard court for a long time. [exactamente cuatro meses, desde el 4 de noviembre, cuando se lesionó contra Holger Rune en Bercy]and there are also great players in the box, but I think I have my options and I will try to take advantage of them ”, continues the number two, to whom the physical blows of recent times have not taken their toll in emotional terms, according to what his team transmits.
In an interview recently granted to this newspaper, the man who promoted him from the box in Buenos Aires and Rio, Antonio Martínez Cascales, remarked: “In training he does not measure, neither in the effort nor in the race. Sometimes you say to yourself: ‘But why are you going for that ball?’ But you can’t even ask him why, because it’s in his DNA.” Before disembarking in Indian Wells, the coach –Ferrero’s mentor, number one for 20 years– assured the Eurosport channel that “the team is studying the situation”, in reference to injuries, and once again associated them with aggressive maneuvers : “The explanation lies in his explosive style of play, which is often excessive.”
In the middle of the learning process, even though the facts illuminate a young man out of the ordinary, Alcaraz tries to internalize the message that his environment repeats to him over and over again, but his genetics dictate that he chase all the balls even when there is some muscular risk . His circle emphasizes his youth and that over the years he will learn to regulate himself better. “I’m ready, I felt really good. He was able to rest for a few days and that has been good for me. I haven’t played hard for a long time, but I’m good at it ”, appreciates the Spaniard, in search of the throne that he lost on January 30, when Djokovic was crowned in Melbourne.
To achieve this, Alcaraz must win. In case of doing so, he would reach 7,420 points in the classification, while the Serbian would remain at 7,160. Both are fighting for the leader with the Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas on the prowl. To overcome them, the Athenian (24 years old) should win in Indian Wells or Miami and be a finalist in the other tournament. Meanwhile, the first sieve took Bernabé Zapata (6-2 and 7-6(6) against Hugo Humbert), Roberto Carballés (6-1 and 7-5 with Taro Daniel) and Jaume Munar (6-7( 6), 6-0 and 7-6(3) against Yibing Wu). The Cantabrian Christina Bucsa did progress, which corroborates her remarkable start to the season –third round in Australia– having accessed the main draw and drawn the first round: 7-6 (6) and 7-5 against Katie Swan.
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