Rafael Nadal’s tally of 13 French Open titles is a feat that is likely to remain unbroken for a very long time, if not forever. And his haul of 20 Slams is a record in men’s tennis, matched only by Roger Federer. Needless to say, Nadal’s shoes are hard for any player to fill, let alone a rising teenager from his own country.
But 17-year-old Carlos Alcaraz has gotten used to the comparisons with his illustrious countryman in recent times. On Wednesday, Alcaraz qualified for the Australian Open, which will mark his first main draw appearance at a Grand Slam event.
While Alcaraz may be used to the comparisons with Rafael Nadal from the media, his team is trying to ensure that he doesn’t get bogged down by the expectations. Alcaraz is currently being coached by former World No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero – someone who is very familiar with Rafael Nadal, having played the Spanish legend on nine occasions.
Ferrero recently asserted that Carlos Alcaraz shouldn’t hope to emulate every one of Rafael Nadal’s feats, since that would be ‘impossible’.
“Comparisons are inevitable, we know, but the fewer there are the better. We all know that matching what Rafael Nadal has done is impossible,” Ferrero said. “So we want him (Carlos) to be calm and to remain focused on tennis, regardless of whether he becomes top 10, No. 1 or No. 18. The important thing is that he works hard; the numbers and the results will come in the future.”
Ferrero believes that comparisons with the likes of Rafael Nadal come with their own set of pros and cons, but he assured everyone that Carlos Alcaraz is committed to working hard and improving his game.
“We try to create our own bubble, although we know that Carlos is already on the lips of many,” Ferrero added. “Our entire group tries to keep him so calm, away from any kind of comparison. We know that it is a good thing that they compare him with the best, but on the other hand he is not as good, that puts unnecessary added pressure on him. The good thing is that he takes it well, he is making his way, working and achieving things.”
Carlos Alcaraz is Rafael Nadal’s natural replacement: Toni Nadal
Even Toni Nadal, the uncle and former coach of Rafael Nadal, is seriously impressed by Carlos Alcaraz. In a recent column, Toni called the 17-year-old Nadal’s natural replacement.
“Carlos Alcaraz has become, with the endorsement of his results and his game, not only the great hope of Spanish tennis, but also Rafael Nadal’s natural replacement,” Toni wrote.
“The first time I saw him play it was precisely in a tournament that was played at my nephew’s academy and, despite his defeat that day, I predicted that his future in the world of tennis would be very bright,” he added.
While it is unlikely that the tennis world will ever see another Rafael Nadal, the years ahead surely look exciting for Carlos Alcaraz and Spanish tennis.
Published 15 Jan 2021, 00:23 IST