Carlitos Alcaraz

Alcaraz? Neither Djokovic, nor Nadal, nor Federer: “It’s 100 per cent me, and not a copy of any player’s shots”.

A short video is circulating on social media in which Carlos Alcaraz is asked what his dream is. The Spaniard answers without hesitation that what he aspires to is to be one of the greatest players in the history of tennis.

In the interview with the Spanish radio station Cadena SER he does not say that he dreams of winning one or more Grand Slams, he does not say that he would like to be number one. Partly because he already achieved both as a “teenager”. But also because Alcaraz does not dream, Alcaraz does not “like” anything, Alcaraz does not offer any room for doubt.

“Maybe I’m too ambitious, maybe I’m too big, but in this world you always have to dream big, always think big, high-end goals”, Alcaraz explained, in case it was necessary.

Alcaraz, the artist formerly known as “Carlitos”, is so convinced of the possibilities of his tennis that he has set himself a huge goal: to compete head-to-head with the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. To surpass them, too? On the understanding that he will leave names like Pete Sampras, Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg, to name but a few giants, in his wake.

Alcaraz’s ambition knows no bounds. But always with a smile.

Do you smile because you win or do you win because you smile, the 20-year-old Spaniard, world number one in tennis, was asked.

“I win all the time because I’m smiling,” he said. He said it smiling. “I always said that smiling is, for me, the key to everything.”

In that, the Spaniard is different. In a couple of years on the tour he smiled longer than Federer, Nadal and Djokovic combined, three players who took their jobs and goals very seriously. As serious as Alcaraz, even if the young man never stops smiling.

Alcaraz’s ambition encompasses the biggest goals as well as the smallest or most banal. On Wednesday, during his victory over Japan’s Taro Daniel in the Roland Garros Center Court, the Spaniard set out to win a point by passing the ball between his legs and with his back to the net. What many in the Spanish-speaking world know as “la gran Willy”, as the Argentine Guillermo Vilas was very fond of trying that shot.

It wasn’t the easiest shot, it wasn’t the most likely to succeed. But it worked, the lob was flawless. “There are many times that I like to make that kind of point, try it and see what I can do. In my head I was thinking about doing the ‘willy'”.

Of course, every smile has a limit, and so does Alcaraz’s smile. It fades somewhat before the next question: those who analyse you, those who try to understand the Alcaraz phenomenon say that they see in you Federer’s strokes, Nadal’s strokes, Djokovic’s strokes. Is that so? Or are they all Alcaraz’s strokes and the comparison makes no sense?

It is clear that Alcaraz does not like comparisons. And it is logical, after all, what he is proposing is to fight for the top of history, he intends to be the reference, to be the axis of history.

“They say I have Nadal, Federer and Djokovic shots, because that’s what people have been used to seeing for 20 years. But I don’t define myself, I haven’t tried to be like anyone else. I like to think that I’m 100 per cent me, and not a copy of any other player’s strokes.”

Better not to ask Juan Carlos Ferrero, his coach, who in an interview some months ago with CLAY admitted the link between Alcaraz’s game and the members of the now defunct “Big three”: “In terms of his strokes, he has Djokovic’s aggressiveness, Roger’s climbing the net and, mentally, obviously, Rafa’s. If you want to compare them with the three, I would go that way”.

Si estás leyendo esto es porque te gusta el tenis y disfrutas con el periodismo que hacemos. Si puedes y quieres colaborar, invítanos un KOFI para que podamos seguir contando las mejores #HistoriasDeTenis por el mundo.
Invitame un café en

Clay’s managing editor has covered more than 60 Grand Slam tournaments since 1996. Author of “Sin Red”, a journey around the world following Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal: The Lives and Careers of Two Tennis Legends