World No. 32 Carlos Alcaraz is highly dubbed as the next big thing in tennis given his sensational run this season. The 18-year old Spaniard started off the season quite well and now aims to cap it off successfully as he enters the NextGen ATP Finals 2021 as the top-seed and is a heavy favourite for the title this year in Milan, Italy.
Alcaraz started the year by qualifying into the main-draw of the 2021 Australian Open where he was the youngest player in the main-draw. He registered a win in his Grand Slam debut but lost in the 2nd round. At the 2021 French Open, he made it to the 3rd round and then reached the 2nd round at the 2021 Wimbledon where despite a good fight, World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev got the better of him.
At the 2021 US Open, Alcaraz scripted history by becoming the youngest man in the 4th round of a Grand Slam since 1992 and then became the youngest US Open men’s quarterfinalist in the Open Era. His run ended untimely as he had to withdraw due to an injury and forefeight his match. At the US Open, he registered his first Top-10 win when he ousted World No. 3 Stefanos Tsitsipas in a 5-set thriller.
These results helped him break into the Top-35 of the ATP Singles rankings and guarantee him a spot in the upcoming NextGen Finals this year. Speaking ahead of his first match, the Spaniard said, “It’s really great to be here, to be at the NextGen finals, it is really nice, so excited to be here. It was one of my goals at the beginning of the year to be here at the NextGen Finals and I think I worked hard to play here.”
Carlos Alcaraz currently is the youngest Tour-level winnner in over 12 years
Alcaraz is often compared to 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal and is called the successor of the ‘King of Clay’. The speculation increased after the teenager won the 2021 Croatia Open in Umag defeating French veteran Richard Gasquet in the finals and became the youngest Tour winner since Kei Nishikori won the 2008 Delray Beach Open.
Speaking about his season having played 62 matches this year, Alcaraz said, “I feel really good. I feel comfortable on the court, I have a lot of confidence in myself, I’m playing at a good level and I’m really prepared for the tournament. I’ve played a lot of matches this year, a lot of great matches against good players.
“Zverev at Acapulco, Rafael at Madrid, those matches gave me a lot of experience. It’s really important to improve my game, how to handle the pressure and without those matches and moments, it wouldn’t be possible to be here right now,” added the Spaniard.
Carlos will start his NextGen Finals campaign against Holger Rune on Day-1 of the event.