Carlos the ‘instagrammable’ Alcaraz: “I want people to get hooked on tennis”
NEW YORK – Carlos Alcaraz reached a new popularity milestone: he is already the active tennis player with the most followers on Instagram after the Big 3. Carlos the Instagrameable? Yes, and the world number one knows very well where his fame on the social network is taking him.
“Maybe I am [Instagrammable]. Right now I’m very involved in social media to show tennis to the world as well. That the incredible points reach maybe people who have never seen tennis in their life and maybe as a result of those points, or the photos, they get hooked on tennis and we can have more people watching our sport,” Alcaraz told the media.
“What I say is that I try in every match to show a good point so that it goes out there and people can get interested,” added the reigning champion in New York. The US Open’s social networks, with a very smart and refreshing strategy that includes posts in Spanish, and a more informal language than the other Grand Slam tournament accounts, helped the Spaniard overtake Australian Nick Kyrgios.
There are 4.2 million users who have clicked ‘follow’ on the 20-year-old tennis player’s profile since he stopped being @charly_tenista03 and became @carlitosalcarazz . Behind him he left the Australian (4.1M), Naomi Osaka (2.7M) and Emma Raducanu (2.5M). With a few more years on tour than Alcaraz, Alexander Zverev (1.9M), Stefanos Tsitsipas (1.8M) and Daniil Medvedev (1.1M) were left behind several months ago. His peers Sinner and Rune, meanwhile, do not exceed one million.
Their phenomenon was understood by the people behind the US Open’s social platforms and its Spanish-language program. While the main reason is to reach more and better the large number of Spanish speakers who live in the United States and follow tennis around the world, they also saw Alcaraz’s traction and the connection he has with the fans as an opportunity.
“Alcaraz is the perfect player in the age of social media,” Bastien Fachan, tells CLAY. Fachan is a freelance community manager who works for Tennis TV, ITF and the Canada Masters 1000 accounts: “Carlos is essentially the face of tennis already. His media accounts are very well curated and a true reflection of who he is.”
For the photographers on tour, Alcaraz is their favorite because of his expressiveness, explosiveness and outfits that flatter his physique and likability. “Speaking for the majority of photographers, Alcaraz is the best to photograph today. Thanks to the intensity he brings to every shot and his fighting spirit that shows him doing great celebrations. He is also smiling. Before it was Gael Monfils, then Rafa and now it’s Carlos,” photographer Antoine Couvercelle tells CLAY.
Couvercelle is a tennis photographer with 23 years of experience on the tour. According to the traffic on his professional website, Alcaraz is the best-selling tennis player after Nadal and Federer: “They are the legends of the sport. Like Michael Jordan or Tiger Woods. And after Rafa and Roger, the most followed is Carlos.”
“In my experience contributing to the social media channels of Tennis TV, plus various ATP tournaments, as well on my personal account, I’ve found that Alcaraz generates by far the most engagement behind the Big 3 and Serena Williams: his menu of shots is mind-blowing, he’s breaking precocity records left and right, and some of his on-court interactions are wholesome. These are things that you’re likely to have an emotional response to and to share with your friends or your audience,” says Fachan, one of the referents in the world of tennis data on Twitter.
— Antoine Couvercelle (@couvercelleanto) September 3, 2023
Alcaraz’s reach is undoubtedly on the rise, but among active players – without considering Rafael Nadal while he is preparing to return to competition – the best in the world is still Novak Djokovic for the simple fact that the Serb is a record-breaking animal. The latest? With his win over Taylor Fritz at Flushing Meadows, he became the male tennis player with the most Grand Slam semifinals in history (47), ahead of Roger Federer and only behind Chris Evert.
“Alcaraz proves that controversy is not the only way to virality, which is refreshing. Djokovic remains number one in terms of attention because he is making history pretty much every time he steps on court, and he has an engaged community of hardcore fans rallied behind him,” Bachan expounds.
Alcaraz is riding high in the media battle, and a couple of facts bear this out: Google News delivers more results when searching for his name than Novak Djokovic’s, both in English and Spanish (Serbian and the other Balkan languages are different), and the number of journalists attending press conferences at recent Grand Slams is higher for the Spanish than for the 22-time Grand Slam champion.
He is the first tennis phenomenon native to social networks to mix on-court results, showmanship and charisma. A record-breaking powerhouse.