Cucumber juice and a photo with the champion’s trophy: Alcaraz, closer to Djokovic than Nadal

Carlos Alcaraz, hace una década junto a la Torre Eiffel / @hxqurl
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PARIS – No one can deny that Carlos Alcaraz is a confident young man, and he does nothing to hide it either. In that sense, the Spaniard is much more like Serbia’s Novak Djokovic than his compatriot Rafael Nadal.

‘There is a phrase that I repeat to myself a lot, that finals are not to be played in, but to be won,’ Alcaraz explained after securing a place in the final of the French Open tennis tournament on Sunday against Germany’s Alexander Zverev. He had been asked if he imagined himself lifting the trophy, and the answer was ‘Alcarazian’.

“Well, it’s a nice image, I’m not going to deny it, of course I can imagine it. I have the image in my head.”

A response also typical of Djokovic, who never hesitated to show his ambition, and unthinkable in Nadal, who made throughout his career a cult of respect for the opponent and the game: many things can happen in tennis, better not to sell the bear’s skin before hunting him.

It is also true that Alcaraz has had the image of the champion’s photo in his head since he was a child. On the one hand, because he played a decade ago in an under-12 tournament on a court that was being built in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. There he said that his idol was Roger Federer.

Alcaraz, a los 12 años, entrevistado por el sitio Tennistopic / YOUTUBE

“I used to leave school and run home to plug it into the TV to watch matches here at Roland Garros, which was just after school. It’s a very special tournament for me, I’ve been watching it since I was a child, and as I said, it’s also a tournament in which Spanish tennis players have been very successful. We are used to Rafa, but before Rafa also many players, so I want to leave my mark, my name on that list”.

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The run-up to the final was extremely complicated for the Spaniard, who needed five sets to defeat Italy’s Jannik Sinner, the new world number one since Monday 10 June. Alcaraz did not play well, but he showed determination and fighting ability when his tennis did not respond. As he did a year ago in the memorable semi-final defeat to Djokovic, he suffered cramps, but this time he was prepared to deal with them, he had the magic cucumber juice.

Carlos Alcaraz, after advancing to the Roland Garros 2024 final/ SEBASTIÁN FEST

‘It was 3-0 down in the fifth set when his physiotherapist, Juanjo Moreno, gave the little bottle to one of the ball boys to give to Carlos,’ revealed the Spanish sports website ‘Relevo’.

‘They are small bottles with pickle juice, plus salts and vitamins, he takes it to prevent possible cramps,’ added the Spanish website.

In that brief interview a decade ago next to the Eiffel Tower, Alcaraz also revealed his sporting dream: ‘To win Wimbledon and Roland Garros’.

He already fulfilled the first part in July 2023. He has one victory left to make it complete in June 2024.

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