Friday, December 1, 2023

Former World No 1 Chris Evert absolutely convinced Carlos Alcaraz is the future of men’s tennis

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Evert, who won 18 Grand Slam titles during a glittering career, admitted that Alcaraz’s recent victory at Indian Wells left her both “in awe” and “flabbergasted”.

And while tennis has waited more than a decade for an heir apparent to Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer to arrive, Evert is in no doubt that the time has finally come.

Still a teenager, Alcaraz did not lose a set in six Indian Wells matches, as he emulated his legendary countryman Nadal in becoming only the second player to win three Masters 1000 crowns before turning 20.

“I don’t know how he can improve anymore,” Evert told Eurosport after seeing Alcaraz return to the top of the world rankings. “The beauty of his game is that he has no weaknesses whatsoever for any of his opponents to have a chance unless he’s having a bad day.

“Other top players in the past, they’ve been brilliant, but you always felt like there was some sort of weakness in their game or something they could really magnify and bring out. Carlos, the way he is defensively, and the way he is offensively, no other player can do those two aspects as well as he can.

“He is the best mover on the ATP Tour by far, I think. He has the mental component as well, which is confidence – he thinks he should win any match that he plays, and he has sheer passion and delight every time he hits a ball. He’s just very creative and he adapts very well.

“I think this is definitely going to be his year. I don’t see how it can’t be unless he gets injured. I have high expectations. Some majors, maybe more than one, and maybe some good rivalries will come out of the men’s side as well.

“I want to say he is the epitome of what an athlete should be, with the qualities, and the tool-set. He was born to be a champion. He was born to be brilliant in the field of tennis, and he’s got the tool-set as well as the championship intangible qualities like focus, hunger and passion.

“I just think if he stays the course and doesn’t try to get too over the top with his creativity and with his imagination if he just stays the course and carries on that momentum that we just saw at Indian Wells, I think he is the number one in the world right now. He is going to win multiple majors.

“I’m in awe when I watch him, I’m flabbergasted. I’m just in disbelief at how well he moves, and how he improvises and adapts to certain situations. I think we’re seeing a new level, a higher level of tennis. You always think you’ve seen the greatest with Roger and Rafa and Novak, but every decade it just seems like there appears a player that is at even a higher level than the former champion.”

What makes Alcaraz’ rise even scarier, is that unlike Nadal, he doesn’t show a clear bias towards a particular surface, which makes every single Grand Slam tournament up for grabs.

“Before we had high hopes for Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev, and we had high hopes for other top players that were younger, but it never really came to fruition where they would be in the class of Novak and Rafa. I think now, Carlos is in that class. He is right up there with them,” Evert said.

“I look forward, as a fan, to the matches where Carlos plays Rafa – I mean, how would you like to see them play on clay at the French Open, and Carlos plays Djokovic? I think those matches are going to be incredibly electric and we’re going to see an even higher level of tennis. So if anything, he will even improve their games, maybe because he’s such a big talent.

“He is a multi-surface guy. I see him doing great on grass. I mean, look at Nadal winning Wimbledon. Why can’t Carlos? That’s obvious to me, the fact that on any surface he can excel and he can win major titles.”

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