Spain completely gaga for Carlos Alcaraz: "Here, it's already a star of Nadal's size"

Spain completely gaga for Carlos Alcaraz: “Here, it’s already a star of Nadal’s size”

He may now be his rival on the circuit, and his potential opponent in the semi-finals, Rafael Nadal could not help but put on his protective big brother cape. Tired of all these comparisons that flourish with Carlos Alcaraz, he insisted on repeating a course of action that he has set himself for months now: it’s up to the kid to write his own story.

If he can win 25 Grand Slams, it will be great for our country, but let him enjoy itexplained the man to the 21 Majors. I was able to manage my career as I wanted, it’s time to let him do it too. […] Do not ask me the question again, because I will give you the same answer every time. You can’t put more pressure on him“. The damage is however done: at 19, Carlos Alcaraz approaches this Roland-Garros with a sign that big on his back and a status to assume. The sensation of the year is him.

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If the circuit ignites for each exit of the Alcaraz phenomenon, on the other side of the Pyrenees, it is something else again. “Here is already a star of the dimension of Nadaltells us Ivan Castello, from Eurosport Spain. Not only for his tennis, which is obviously incredible, but also for his very direct, very sincere character. Everyone adores him and he wins against the best. Finally, it looks like a young player is able to knock Nadal and Djokovic off their pedestal“.

Since April, when Real Madrid has taken over the headlines thanks to a season as historic as it is stunning, Alcaraz has allowed itself the luxury of occupying the front page of the Spanish newspaper three times. As only devoted two of them but offered the most telling “portada”: “The Alcaraz era has begun“, we could read on April 4, after the coronation of the kid in Miami. Since then, the praise has not stopped. And the comparisons have resumed even more.

The last time we saw something similar was obviously with Rafa Nadal in 2005says Alvaro Benito, commentator for Cadena Ser. Such a sudden eruption, I can only see Rafa’s being comparable for us. But if we play the game of comparisons, I don’t know if the eruption is stronger, but I find that Alcaraz, at 19, is already a more finished player than Nadal when he was 19. Even taking into account Rafa’s mentality and forehand, which he always had, I think there are many more aspects in favor of Alcaraz, with drop shots, lobs, serve…

Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal

Credit: Getty Images

The star of the networks, too

Still, Nadal is right: comparing the media power of the two kids, Rafa in 2005 and Carlos in 2022, makes little sense. Because, in the meantime, everything has changed. “At the time of Nadal, in 2004-2005, the media ecosystem was perhaps not as built as it is now even if the traditional media already existedrewinds Alvaro Benito, also a Grand Slam commentator on Eurosport Spain. I believe that social networks accentuate the phenomenon: whatever he does, whatever he says, Carlos Alcaraz has an extraordinary resonance“.

It is also for this reason that Alcaraz rose so high so early in the media. “I think the social media effect plays a big role because Alcaraz has a much higher penetration rate than Nadal at the time among the entire Spanish population.says Ivan Castello. The impact is much greater and Alcaraz only needed a few months to be recognized as a star. I will take a recent example: the simple mention by Djokovic of the fact that his son had Alcaraz as his favorite player from now on has panicked the counters. For us, these are huge numbers, comparable to those generated by Nadal“.

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However, if he has all the attributes of a world star on the court, Alcaraz is still a young man of 19 when the microphones come. Where Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas or Sasha Zverev have already taken the fold and adopted their own tone in front of the media, the young Spaniard is showing his age. “I think he’s still a little shy but it’s slowly disappearingbelieves the commentator of the Cadena Ser. Whenever I have been able to interview him, he does not give such long and precise answers as Nadal or Djokovic, which is normal at 19 years old. On the other hand, his ambition is obvious. When you speak with Carlos, with his staff, with his entourage, you realize two things: the humility he exudes but also this crazy ambition he has in him. I remember an interview with him in December 2020 at Cadena Ser: he was 141st in the world and I asked him about his ambition. He told me: ‘I want to be number one in the world'”.

From this point of view, the “pressure” evoked by Nadal is also the result of an explosive young man, on whom events seem to slip. Does the risk of seeing him collapse in the face of this context in Paris exist? “I’m really not sure because he seems so mature, he manages his emotions perfectly and doesn’t seem afraid of the unknownbelieves Alex Corretja, also disconcerted by so much ease. It’s almost the most unusual quality in a tennis player and very few of us have proven our minds to be the same at 18 and 36. Him, he already has the mentality of a veteran when he is on the court even if he has not yet experienced everything“So, inevitably, in Spain as elsewhere, Alcaraz-mania has a bright future ahead of it.

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