Alcaraz wins, inspires and bets on the spectacle: “I always want to put on a show”
NEW YORK – Evening is falling in New York, and from Corona Park the view towards Arthur Ashe Stadium is beautiful. The lights form the rainbow that heralds Pride Night, which has been celebrated at the US Open since 2021.
LGBTIQ+ flags flutter in equal numbers to the USA flags and more colored lights emanating from wristbands handed out to the crowd. They play to the beat of music brought by a DJ.
“We have to entertain people when they watch tennis,” says Carlos Alcaraz. And New Yorkers melt with his adorable attitude that has long captivated them.
The concept of entertainment is very clear to Alcaraz. No matter who he has in front, doesn’t give a ball for lost, plays impossible shots and never offers a menu without surprises. This time it is the turn of South African Lloyd Harris to taste it. But more important than making people have a good time, he has to spend a good time, even if “sometimes it’s difficult”.
He is the reigning champion in London and New York. Owner of the two titles in the stages with the most dissimilar atmosphere in the sport: the tradition, order and silence of Wimbledon, or the noise, music and electricity of the U.S. Open?
“Both have been very, very good for me, but I think what you feel here is different. A different energy than all of them. Because of the way I am and the way I play, always wanting to put on a show, here at the US Open is where I like to play the most. I have a good time with the crowd,” says Alcaraz.
His joy is contagious. Coco Gauff will use Alcaraz as inspiration when she needs it against Iga Swiatek or Aryna Sabalenka. The North American tennis player highlights that special characteristic of her contemporary: “I saw Carlos in Cincinnati, where he lost a set in almost every match. He was not playing at his best level and the way he was smiling in the most complicated moments, set down, facing break point or match points… I thought if he is number one in the world and with all this pressure he can smile, then I can do that too”.
Harris, as well, enjoyed it. He already anticipated it in interview with CLAY: “It will be an exciting match; Alcaraz has no weak points, so I have to be even better. I have to build the points to unbalance him a little bit”.
Arthur Ashe multicolored for Pride Day // SEBASTIÁN VARELA
It was in the third set that the dose of color increased even more in a match that became very entertaining. The South African started to return deeper, knew how to set up better rallies moving Alcaraz from one side to the other, and managed to force the tiebreak that the public was asking for. The boy with the sleeveless and colorful shirt was having a great time, but it was clear that he did not feel like stretching the moment.
6-4, 6-1, 7-6 (5) and the key to the third round, with the British Dan Evans on the way. One more step to achieve what no one since Roger Federer has been able to make in men’s tennis: defend the title at Flushing Meadows.
“It’s a motivation. It would be incredible to share that achievement with Federer.”