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Camilo Ugo Carabelli, or what it means to go from challengers to Carlos Alcaraz

Ugo Carabelli
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BUENOS AIRES – There are some very typical details on a challenger tennis player when it comes to play play on the most important court in Latin America against the best tennis player of the new era of tennis. Like, for example, removing the logos of the brand that used to be the clothing sponsor.

Camilo Ugo Carabelli’s girlfriend helped the player to erase with an iron the insignia of Lotto, the sports company that did not renew the Argentinean’s contract in 2024. Nothing is given for free, and playing in the first round of the Argentina Open at night against the world number two is one of the best opportunities to give that message: I have no sponsors, I am waiting for your calls.

This is the reality of someone who lives mainly in the “second division” of tennis, and who tries for the first time the game of a top player. Of that “top” that is Carlos Alcaraz. “There is a big difference. His forehand was unplayable. From any side, his inverted forehand, his forehand on the run, he has impressive drops. That in the challengers is far from being seen. His forehand… I’ve never faced anything like that”, he said in conference after the 6-2 and 7-5 defeat against the Wimbledon champion.

Carlos Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz playing the Argentina Open // SERGIO LLAMERA

The Argentine broke Alcaraz’s serve three times in the summer night in the capital of Argentina. He even came very close to serving to take the second set when he went 0-40 at 5-5. Afterwards, Ugo described a masterful play by the 20-year-old at a delicate moment in the match: “He had never served to the ‘T’ before. It’s 30-40 and with the first serve he’s going to serve with an open kick, but the ball hits the net. I was waiting for it open wide, determined to push, I was returning much better that way… but after the let he comes and serves to the ‘T’, he serves an ace”. Such is the pulse of champions in important moments.

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Another moment where Alcaraz showed his category: in the second set, the fifth game had 18 deuces. The Spaniard ended up being the owner of that game: “It was very long. I knew that having an advantage he wasn’t going to give me anything. I was serving him with a backhand kick hoping he would make a bad return or something, maybe in Challengers it happens… but here it was impossible for it to happen. That game was key, after that I lost three games very easily, I was tired, feeling the lack of air and the opportunities I wasted came to my mind”, said the 134th ranked player.

Camilo Ugo Carabelli
Camilo Ugo Carabelli removed the logos of the clothing brand that stopped sponsoring him. Instead, he showed on his sleeves the real state company Azcuy.// SERGIO LLAMERA

When playing one of the best matches of your career is not enough to get rid of a two-time Grand Slam champion, there is one consolation: having the chance to convince him to become a fan of your football team.

Alcaraz visited La Bombonera, Boca Juniors’ stadium. He entered the field on Tuesday morning; he cheered from the box on Wednesday, during Boca’s victory over Central Córdoba. After the round of 16 at Court Central Guillermo Vilas, Ugo congratulated Alcaraz and took the opportunity to persuade him to join San Lorenzo.

“He told me that he was going to give me a shirt of his team, that I can’t be a Boca fan. And he kept his word, because in the locker room he gave a jersey to me,” revealed Alcaraz, who will put the gift from his Argentine colleague in his room.

Things that happen on one of the best days in the life of a challenger tour player.

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