Submitted to the faithfulness of three tennis players who have rarely left crumbs to others, tennis has been wondering for years about the succession of Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, with an unequivocal answer: there are applicants, but no successors. How to predict a succession when the veteran champions still rule with an iron fist? Better to ask Carlos Alcaraz, who has raised his hand and wishes to respond. He won the US Open, became No. 1 in the world and left the tennis world wondering about his untapped resources. At only 19 years old, he has put tennis to dream.
This season was not unlike all those that have faded into memory since Federer began winning tournaments in 2003, immediately followed by Nadal and shortly after by Djokovic. Without the great Swiss on the courts and Djokovic banned from the Australian and United States Opens due to his refusal to get vaccinated, a battered Nadal has defended the flag of veterans as if he were a kid. He won in Australia and at Roland Garros. Djokovic took advantage of the permission of the British, went to Wimbledon and won without major problems.
In many ways, it’s been a very frustrating year for a handful of players who wanted to pick up the slack from the champions. Medvedev had earned deserved credit for his victory over Djokovic at the previous US Open and his subsequent appearance in the Australian Open final. A good candidate, perhaps a successor. Or not, because Medveded has joined the same car in which the Greek Tsitsipas, the German Zverev or the Russian Rublev travel.
Young, but with a long experience on the circuit, they aim high and shoot lower than they should. They fail to establish themselves as an indisputable alternative to the big three. They suffer from a syndrome that shrinks them. For now, they’re just respectful wannabes. Alcaraz is something else. He wants to be the undisputed successor, the leader of a new government in tennis. He has not speculated, nor has he delayed his dizzying ascent for an instant. He came and kicked the door, which is usually the way empires are brought down, without warning and with a bang.
Yes, there was a lot of talk about Carlos Alcaraz in the tennis circles, a kid from Murcia who was ahead of his time and traveled the youth circuit like a rocket. In 2021, he set off big ways at the US Open. In January of this year, he wowed specialists in Australia. In any case, it was audacity to place him in the same platoon with Tsitsipas, Medveded and company.
Alcaraz has not waited for anyone. At some point this season, more than likely after his resounding runs in Indian Wells, Miami and Madrid, he understood that his path did not depend on small, measured and correct steps, nor on the cabals about his talent among the tennis gurus. Carlos Alcaraz wanted it all, here and now. He has not wasted a minute in getting it. He has not behaved like a dilettante cowered by the hegemony of the old monsters. Just in case, Alcaraz had already beaten them this season. In Madrid he beat Nadal and Djokovic. The message was sent.
Specialists have already begun to break down all its qualities with the eagerness of entomologists. They know that they are facing a very special phenomenon. Everything indicates that the breadth of his records is as remarkable as his will to impose them on the dance floor. He doesn’t wait for anyone because he prefers to be chased. He didn’t want to eat at the applicants’ table. Carlos Alcaraz prefers to sit at the royal table.
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