Alcaraz and Nadal, another dream in Paris, 40 days later

Alcaraz y Nadal
Rafael Nadal y Carlos Alcaraz antes de un partido
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PARIS – Carlos Alcaraz had it well in mind on his night of glory at Roland Garros: there were 40 days to go before returning to the Bois de Boulogne to pursue another dream, the Olympics, and this time hand in hand with Rafael Nadal.

“The truth is that when I come back here for the Olympics, I will have flashbacks. I’m not going to lie to you,’ Alcaraz said on Sunday night in Paris, with the French Open trophy to his left.

“It can be a very nice tournament, my first Olympic Games, 40 days after winning my first Roland Garros. I think it’s going to be a very special tournament for me. I’m really looking forward to it. To fight to be an Olympic champion and to bring a medal to my country, to play doubles in the Games with Rafa Nadal. Well, these are things that I won’t believe until I experience the moment”.

Alcaraz and Nadal medal in the doubles at the Olympic Games, why not? The third for Nadal after gold in singles in Beijing 2008 and in doubles in Rio 2016. The first for Alcaraz.

Well, many could answer: because they have never played together, because they have not even trained together, because a successful doubles needs knowledge, confidence and automatisms. It is not a question of adding two great players to automatically create a double grab.

And all that is true, although it is also true something that Nadal said more than once: ‘He who is good is good’.

That is to say: a great talent usually finds its way. And two, when it comes to playing doubles, too.

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That is the idea circulating in Alcaraz’s team: they don’t need to play a tournament together before the Olympic Games, they don’t even need to face several training sessions together. Because if they are good, they are good.

Who goes on the left side, who goes on the right. And to play. One 38 years old, the other 21: it sounds like a father-son tournament duo in a social club, although in reality they are light years away from that.

The other thing is that Nadal is looking for a run-in, timing, before the Games, and in the Hamburg tournament nests the hope that they will be the ones chosen so that between the first-round defeat to German Alexander Zverev and his return to Paris 53 days later, Nadal will be tested competitively.

And while Nadal and Alcaraz are maturing their Olympic dreams, Roger Federer is on to something else entirely.

At the same hour that Alcaraz and Alexander Zverev were battling on orange clay, Federer was giving a speech at Dartmouth University, proudly part of the Ivy League and founded in 1769, seven years before the independence of the United States of America.

He left a message that applies to tennis, business and life: ‘Talent is very important, but most of the time it’s not about having a gift, it’s about having grit.’

Alcaraz has a great gift. And grit, as demonstrated in the semi-finals and the final. This will serve him well for his Olympic dream, and also served him well for a statistic that astonishes: at the age when Alcaraz is already king of the US Open (2022), Wimbledon (2023) and Roland Garros (2024), Nadal had won three Roland Garros, Novak Djokovic one Australian Open, and Federer… nothing at all in terms of Grand Slam titles.

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