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At 20, Carlos Alcaraz is taking tennis beyond the Big Three era

The Spaniard beat Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final on Sunday to clinch his second Grand Slam

Kathakali Chanda
Published: Jul 17, 2023 03:53:14 PM IST
Updated: Jul 17, 2023 04:18:46 PM IST

At 20, Carlos Alcaraz is taking tennis beyond the Big Three eraCarlos Alcaraz of Spain poses with the winner's trophy after his victory over Novak Djokovic of Serbia in the final of the men's singles during day fourteen of The Championships Wimbledon 2023 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 16, 2023 in London, England. Image: Frey/TPN/Getty Images

“People have been talking about the past 12 months or so about his game being consisting of certain elements of Roger [Federer], Rafa [Nadal] and myself.  I would agree with that. He’s got basically the best of all three worlds.”

That was Novak Djokovic speaking about Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him in the final of the Wimbledon to clinch his second Grand Slam. High praise indeed for a guy who is just 20. But, then, Alcaraz has proved to be the first real successor to the Big Three—Federer, Nadal and Djokovic—who have dominated the game for the last two decades.  

Consider that Alcaraz won his latest Grand Slam by beating Djokovic, who has 23. Djokovic has also won the first two Slams of the year, at 36 is still in fine shape, and is considered to be among the greatest of all time. The victory over Djokovic will also perhaps complete the circle for Alcaraz as the Serbian was unable to compete in the 2022 US Open, which Alcaraz won, due to vaccine non-compliance issues.  
Alcaraz is also only the second player outside the Big Three to have won the Wimbledon since 2003. At 20, he is the third youngest men’s winner in the Open era, the other two being Boris Becker and Bjorn Borg. That’s quite an illustrious club to be in.

Where does Carlos Alcaraz come from? Born into a tennis family in El Palmar, in Spain, Alcaraz is the second of four sons living the dream of his father, also Carlos, who didn’t have the money to pursue a professional career despite being one of the best players in the country. According to a report in the New York Times, it was local businessman Alfonso Lopez, a family friend, who funded Alcaraz’s early tennis journey. There has been no looking back since. 

Also watch: Roger Federer: The legend's journey on the tennis court in numbers

Since 2018, Alcaraz has been training with Juan Carlos Ferrero, a former World No 1 and a French Open champion.  

What makes Alcaraz such a formidable player? Speed, athleticism, all-court play and a mind as resilient as tungsten. Few would have bet on Alcaraz after Djokovic breezed through the first set, or when he won the fourth set to force a fifth. But Alcaraz came back and prevailed.  

The 20-year-old Spaniard has risen to take tennis beyond the Big Three.