By Richard Pagliaro | @Tennis_Now | Sunday, May 28, 2023
Speed kills; IN Carlos Alcaraz the pace of the case is deep.
The rapid development of Alcaraz’s mental game is a key element in his rise to world No. 1, says the coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Today’s media meeting in Paris, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the 2003 Roland Garros final tournament in which he defeated Martin Verkerk, former world No. 1. Ferrero says Alcaraz are now “definitely” better than last season when they won their first Grand Slam tournament in New York and made history as the youngest year-end No. 1 in ATP history.
The mental maturity of 20-year-old Alcaraz is the main reason why he is better this season, says Ferrero.
“As a person, I’d say he’s more mature. He’s 20 now and of course when you’re in a team where people are older, I think you grow up a little faster than maybe with other people the same age as you,” Ferrero told the media at Roland Garros. “Yes, as a player I think he grows up very quickly on the court.
“He can, say, read matches a little better. Even before the game, when talking about the game, you can see that he is more mature in all areas of the pitch.
“I’d say it’s better than last year. I think he has more experience. The experience of him winning the US Open and, you know, the experience on court that he did, I think it makes him grow up faster than other people, so he’s definitely a better player.”
Some Grand Slam champions have suggested that Alcaraz reduce his aggression across the court and play tennis at a higher percentage (read: more predictable) as he grows older to reduce the stress on his body.
Roma runner-up Holger Rune, Alcaraz’s former junior doubles partner, said the Spanish phenomenon’s torn physique and physicality amplifies his aggression.
“I think physically he is very, very strong. I’d say probably one of the strongest in the game,” Rune said of Alcaraz. “His tennis is also very physical. I’d say she uses her physique very well.
“A game of aggressive, explosive tennis. I think his physique is a big part of that. If you didn’t have that strong physique, I don’t think you’d be able to play as aggressively and explosively as he does. It’s all connected, for sure.”
The two-time Madrid Alcaraz champion, who told Tennis Now he believes his greatest weapon is “my unpredictability”, said in pre-Roland Garros press that he now reads the game better than last season, allowing him to channel his explosiveness.
“Well, speaking of tennis, I’d say I’m the same player as last year, the only change I’d say is that I’m more mature,” Alcaraz told Paris media. “Psychologically I’m better. And I can read what happened on the court better than last year. “For me it’s really, really important and I’d say it’s the most different from last year.”
Alcaraz already has one of the most complete games in the sport.
The Ferrero coach says Alcaraz has yet to reach its full potential.
The question is, how will Alcaraz respond to the pressure of being the first seed in a Grand Slam for the first time?
“I think obviously winning a Grand Slam already at 19, now 20, will help him believe he can do it again,” Ferrero said. “I think it all helps, not adds to the pressure. We believe in that and I think we are ready for a big tournament.
“Of course anyone can lose in the first round, you have no idea. But I think we’re having a very good season on clay right now, and you know, this is the last one, so we’ll try to give. We’ll do everything we can to make the best tournament possible, no pressure for sure.”
Image Credit: Juan Carlos Ferrero Instagram