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What Alcaraz would do with the ‘big three’ and if he had a tennis girlfriend

Carlos Alcaraz sonríe tras avanzar a los cuartos de final de Roland Garros 2024 y su imagen es exhibida en la pantalla gigante del estadio Suzanne Lenglen / SEBASTIÁN FEST
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PARIS – What would Carlos Alcaraz do if he had a tennis girlfriend? Would he play mixed doubles with her, as his next opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas, does with Paula Badosa? And if he had to split a tennis doubles, football match and concert between Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal as partners, who would he choose? Finally, and this is not a question, it is his statement: not winning Roland Garros this year would be a ‘mediocre’ result.

Things are going so well for the Spaniard at the French Open that the questions are going down extra-tennis paths, or at least point to variations on the usual approaches. Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, 21st in the world ranking and swept aside 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 by Alcaraz, can explain very well why: there is little to say about a match in which he received a tennis lesson from a 21-year-old.

With the Spaniard in the quarter-finals, one of the questions was to what extent he values the fact that he has reached the quarter-finals, or more, in the last six Grand Slams he has played.

“Well, you have to value all the results, you have to value the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. It’s a very good result, but here, if we think it’s just a good result, we’re at a mediocre level, we’re not going to be mediocre. We always want more. When we get to the quarter-finals, we’re already thinking about the match, what we can do to get to the semi-finals. And if we get to the semi-finals, what can we do to get to the final? Here we want to win the tournament. I think if we don’t win the tournament, we will lose a lot.”

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Alcaraz can sound arrogant at times: such is the confidence he has and such is the clarity with which he expresses his desire and belief that he can win, so minimal is the room for doubt. When he was asked after which match he felt he was ready to be champion, the answer was from the first: ‘I saw from the first round that I could have a great result here in the tournament’.

Champion of the US Open 2022 and Wimbledon 2023, Alcaraz laughs in Paris with the confidence that at the age of 21 he will already have three of the four Grand Slams under his belt. No one under the age of 22 has won three Grad Slams on different surfaces, a statistic for which it is important to bear in mind that until the late 1970s three of the four Grand Slams were played on grass.

The spectators at this very cold Roland Garros feel a huge attraction for Alcaraz, captured by the perennial smile of the Spaniard, who in turn is smiling for the fifteenth European Cup of Real Madrid, the team of which he is (almost) as fanatic as Rafael Nadal.

Alcaraz has a 5-0 lead in previous matches with Tsitsipas, and said on Sunday he would hold ‘the key’ to a sixth win and a place in the semi-finals, where Djokovic stopped him a year ago.

The same Tsitsipas who days ago charmed the public and his interviewer, Alex Corretja, by saying that he played mixed doubles with Badosa ‘for love’, in addition to the men’s doubles with his brother.

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If you had a girlfriend, would you play mixed doubles with her?

Alcaraz, unsurprisingly, grinned from ear to ear.

‘First I have to put myself in the situation if I had a girlfriend. But mixing personal and professional life? We are in a tennis tournament, I would look at the professional part first. He (Tsitsipas) is physically well, he doesn’t have any discomfort. If he can combine everything, play doubles and mixed doubles at the same time as singles, go ahead, nobody is the one to tell him to do this or that’.

But what would he do?

“If I had a girlfriend and she asked me to play mixed… I would have to evaluate many things, many things to be able to make up my mind. But if everything is good, then why not!”

Alcaraz left the press room laughing and a minute later he was in front of the ESPN Latin America microphone. There he was presented with a triple dilemma: play a doubles, play football, go to a concert. And Federer, Nadal and Djokovic as companions. How to combine them?

The Spaniard ended up naming Nadal twice, for tennis and football – ‘Rafa plays a hell of a lot of football!’ – but in the end he took Djokovic as a partner to run after the big ball. And Federer to the concert. ‘But let him pay!’.

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