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Champion Alcaraz: never forget to smile and think about winning Australia now

Champion Alcaraz
Carlos Alcaraz, tras avanzar a la final de Roland Garros 2024 / SEBASTIÁN FEST
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PARIS – On Friday night, after a hard-fought victory over Italian Jannik Sinner in the semi-finals, Carlos Alcaraz heard a little criticism over dinner with his family and team.

“Carlos, you didn’t laugh until the fifth set! Not a smile until then…”.

The 21-year-old, who was 44 hours away from lifting the Roland Garros trophy, gave an explanation, but his interlocutor insisted at that Parisian table: ‘If the smile doesn’t come, you have to look for it. The smile sets you up in a virtuous circle”.

Carlos Alcaraz lifts the Roland Garros 2024 Champion Trophy

That’s what works for Alcaraz, because asking other players to smile during their matches would be unfeasible. This is not the case for the Spaniard, who has become known not only for his tennis full of sparkle, imagination and strength, but also for the broad smile he wears with great frequency.

He looks for the great shots, the spectacular points. And if he succeeds, he smiles. And he smiles on many other occasions. That, in the final stretch of a Roland Garros that generated a very special psychological pressure, was seen less, although in the final he was again in many sections the smiling Alcaraz.

Perhaps the Spaniard will also be smiling when he reads what his coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, told a small group of media, including CLAY, after his five-set victory over Alexander Zverev in the final of the French Open. This was the dialogue.

– At the age of 21, he only has to win the Australian Open to have won all four…

– It’s a joke. Are we already asking for another one? Well, well, we’ll ask for one too. I think we have to keep improving. Obviously, the Grand Slams are a goal. I think where Carlos goes, well, he’s already labelled as a favourite. We have to get that ease so that the favouritism does not weigh and play his tennis, which is wonderful.

Juan Carlos Ferrero after the final of Roland Garros 2024 / SEBASTIÁN FEST

Ferrero was especially excited, because Alcaraz’s title in Paris has special connotations for him. Before Rafael Nadal began a near-monopoly in 2005 that lasted until 2022, the last Spaniard to win the Musketeers’ trophy had been him, in 2003.

+Clay  From Djokovic to Swiatek to Alcaraz to Artificial Intelligence: the unexpected Nadal at Roland Garros

A champion Alcaraz thinks in the Australian Open

That 21 years later he symbolically passed the baton from the stands to the player he built to become world number one and the youngest winner of three majors on three different surfaces is something that touches Ferrero to the core.

“It’s a very special tournament. To have won here, to be able to pass on the experience I’ve had winning here…. And, above all, to have your pupil who has also been able to win it. Today, when we had our photo taken, I told him that it was very special, that both of us winning here was a very nice story and that we should be very proud”.

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