Interview with Carlos Alcaraz, the ‘young star’ of world tennis – Tennis – Sports

Carlos and Paquita are the grandparents of Carlitos Alcaraz Garfia, the star athlete of the moment, the adolescent of just 19 years old (turned 5th of this month) who is shaking up the world tennis circuit and who, after winning the Masters 1000 in Madrid (leaving along the way, among others, recognized personalities such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic), advanced to the sixth step of the ranking and goes for everything. He is homeless, Carlitos (as he likes to be called). It is breaking records of prematurity. Veterans and young people shower him with praise, sweeten his ego, but he seems to take on the new scenario naturally.

On the court, marvel; She also dazzles with her charisma and low profile. She is in the center of attention and no consideration seems excessive. With legends retiring or ready to leave, and with talented youngsters who find it difficult to consolidate the replacement in the super elite, Alcaraz (right-handed, 1.85 m, boxer’s right and classical musician’s sensitivity), takes charge of the transition.

“El Palmar is a town… Here we are lucky to have everything. We have a sports center, the tennis club where I grew up, a good hospital, which is one of the best in Spain. There are some good restaurants. There is a lot of space, where you can move a lot, places to be with your friends. It’s a quiet place, quite quiet. Here we all know each other”, narrates Alcaraz, who after winning the fifth title of his career in Madrid (he also has those of Umag 2021, and Rio, Miami and Barcelona this year), he left Rome to rest a few days and then begin the preparation for Roland Garros, which will begin on the 22nd of this month. He is convinced and he is not afraid to say it: he will seek to win the Musketeers Cup.

My father, after playing professionally, worked at the tennis school of the club where I grew up (Real Sociedad Club de Campo). He also had work in several other clubs. Also with the paddle. My childhood was with friends. Most of the time I was at the club playing football and tennis with my friends.

Is this how sport appears in your life: because of your father’s bond?

Yes, he was a tennis player. The sport had him inside.

And what kind of student was he in school? Applied or lazy to study?

It depends. It was both types. Sometimes it cost me a lot more, sometimes it cost me a little less.

My childhood was with friends. Most of the time I spent at the club playing football and tennis with my friends.

I was lucky because since I was little, since when I made my first trip when I was ten years old, I already had a sponsor who helped me: Postres Reina, a fairly important confectionery company in the Murcia region. I had support from a young age. If not, it would have cost me double or tripleor even I would not have been able to fulfill my dreams and my goals.

How do you manage the explosion of your popularity? Until not long ago he could walk quietly down the street and today he is under everyone’s gaze.

I’m handling it pretty well. I am clear that little by little it will be more difficult for me to expose myself, do things in public and others. But in the end you have to have things clear. I am clear that when I want to expose myself I will do it without any problem. Little by little it is costing me more, but for now I am doing well.

Was there any fact linked to the rise of your fame that caught your attention?

Well, when I was coming back from Madrid we stopped at a place to eat (there are about 390 kilometers to El Palmar), a secluded place and there weren’t many people, but they all knew me. That’s when you realize how well known you are becoming.

There was a very symbolic phrase from Toni Nadal about his personality: ‘He has a well-furnished head’. How does he keep his feet on the ground and not fall into the temptations of a teenager?

There I have to thank my family and my team, who are always telling me what I have to do, what is good for me and what is not so good. In the end, I want my whims, I want my things and many times they are not ideal right now. So that’s when my team and my family come in to tell me: ‘Wait a bit, don’t be in such a hurry, go little by little’, and so on. And I am also a guy who is quite clear about things. I am clear about my goal, I am clear about my dream, which is to be number 1 in the world and no matter how many tournaments come, no matter how many things come right now, I still haven’t managed to be number 1. It helps me to keep my feet on the ground to continue trying to fulfill my dreams.

And I am also a guy who is quite clear about things. I am clear about my goal, I am clear about my dream, which is to be number 1 in the world

I plan to buy a car… a good car, but I still have to wait a bit.

He got his driver’s license a short time ago, in February…

Yes, it was this year when I took it out.

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Grandpa Carlos taught his four grandchildren how to play chess. To Carlitos, in addition, he incorporated a philosophy of life for him to use in sports: ‘the three C’s. Head, heart and balls’. The boy, who now has a beard of several days, a tired but luminous face, took it very seriously… he stands out as a true phenomenon.

For almost three decades, if we take into account Sergi Bruguera’s title at Roland Garros 1993, Spain has not stopped dominating the tour, producing great champions and number 1s. It is not by chance. Is it cultural? Is it the groundwork? Is it discipline?

I think we have great coaches here, great workplaces. I would say that the weather has a lot to do with it. We are a country with great things. We have many players to train. We are considered more of clay, for Roland Garros and clay tournaments. It is true that the Spaniards have had good results on the gravel tour, but also on the fast one. We have very good coaches, good centers, good weather, good food… in the end it is a set of things that help you to ‘pull up’.

I think here [España] we have great trainers, great work sites. I would say that the weather has a lot to do with it. We are a country with great things

Yes Yes of course. I can’t speak in general because everyone is as they are, but I would say that in Spain there is good discipline, work is encouraged a lot, I would say, and that has been the key.

His coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero, was a low profile champion who was already in the place you want to reach (in 2003 he was number 1 and champion of Roland Garros). How would you describe it and what value does it have that it accompanies you since youth?

Totally. For me it is super valuable. He experienced it with his coaches, with Toni (Antonio Martínez) and Samuel López, who have been together all their lives. And being there all your life is super special; It’s what I’m looking for. Juan Carlos took me when he was 15 years old, when he was still playing in juniors. I hope to grow with him and finish my entire career together; It would be super special and beautiful. In the end, that is what I like: I am a very close boy, very familiar, who likes to be with his family.

How beneficial is it for your career that Ferrero has already lived this process to the top and can advise you?

Yes, obviously. In the end, everything that I have lived, he has already experienced. He can tell me to go this way or that way, he can guide me along the way. He already knows the good, he already knows the bad, he has lived through it all. Going through the first finals, going through the first grand slam, having to live that game that can give you number one. If one day it happens to me… It’s an advantage I have.

Well, I’m not afraid to say that I’m ready to win a grand slam. Physically I feel very well. I am mentally strong. I am a strong player and in the end that is what it takes to win a grand slam. Now the level is accompanying me. I feel good and quite confident. It’s a host of things that can ‘throw me up’ and I’m not afraid to say I’m ready to do it.

Surprised by his physical transformation, which allows him to play battles of more than three hours. Is the challenge to gain strength without going over the limits and losing freshness?

Yes, obviously, to some extent it’s good to get strong, but as I’ve always said, in tennis it’s about speed and agility before strength itself. Obviously, it is important to be strong, but at the same time also to be fast, quick and agile. That would be the perfect mix. And we have taken it into account: I have become quite strong, I have made a significant physical change, but I have not lost my speed or elasticity. We have done this job quite well.

* * *
Alcaraz faced Nadal 3 times (he beat him for the first time recently, in Madrid) and once with Djokovic (he recently beat him, becoming the first player to beat both in the same tournament on clay; David Nalbandian, by example, he had achieved it in Madrid 2007, but when the contest was on a hard surface). Carlitos never met Federer, his childhood idol, although he trained with him at Wimbledon 2019.

Up to a point it’s good to get strong, but as I’ve always said, in tennis speed and agility prevail before strength itself

I think Rafa would steal his fighting spirit, never giving up, not giving up a ball, sacrificing himself, working hard. If I have to train three hours, I train three hours at 200 percent intensity. To Federer, the elegance, the variety of strokes and tennis that he can display in a match. And to Djokovic, the elasticity and the physique that he has.

Playing parquet, chess, putting together puzzles are common activities that relax you, right? Do you spend a lot of time on your cell phone?

Yes, I play chess from time to time. I like it a lot and I see it as important. Puzzles I made one in the quarantine, but I’m not a fan. I am a guy who uses the phone a lot, which I have to improve because in the end it distracts you from your priorities.

He is a soccer lover and a fan of Real Madrid. Beyond his past in Barcelona, ​​what does Leo Messi generate for you?

I am a fan of Real Madrid, but I am not one of the radicals. Personally I am from Cristiano (Ronaldo), honestly. But with Messi I am not going to deny that they are one of the best in history. Messi has a different football than Cristiano: for me he has more variety than Cristiano, but I’m not afraid to say that those of us who have watched football since the Cristiano and Messi era have been lucky, because they are two gods.

I have no limit right now. I don’t want to put a ceiling on myself. I want to continue climbing as far as I can go: if it can be to heaven, the better.

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At this dizzying pace, Carlos and Paquita will not have enough windows in their house to continue collecting and showing off the rewards that their grandson Carlitos will collect.

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