“Rafa was bad with his transition” Nicolas Lapentti places Carlos Alcaraz above Rafael Nadal drawing a comparison between the two Spanish supernovas
Carlos Alcaraz, Nicolas Lapentti and Rafael Nadal
Carlos Alcaraz has had a meteoric rise since turning pro. At 19 years, 4 months, and 6 days old, he overtook Lleyton Hewitt as the youngest man to be ranked no.1 in the history of ATP Rankings. While his current position can be attributed to some exigent circumstances like Novak Djokovic being banned from two Grand Slam events that hampered his ranking points, Alcaraz’s talent cannot be undermined.
In 2022 the tennis sensation won 5 titles which include his maiden Grand Slam and 2 Masters 1000. He defeated Casper Ruud in the US Open. It was his first appearance in a major final. His other titles include the Madrid and Miami Masters, and the Barcelona and Rio Open. He has a 57-13 win-loss record this year.
The young Spaniard considers Rafael Nadal to be his chief inspiration. A very understandable choice considering they come from the same country. Rafa has been equally enthusiastic about reciprocating the respect. The shared camaraderie and Carlos’s eventual success led to many fans and spectators drawing obvious parallels between the duo. Just like Alcaraz, nearly two decades ago, a teenaged Rafa had burst onto the scene and won his first slam at 19.
While being compared to Rafa is a huge honor, it undoubtedly puts the younger Spaniard under a lot of pressure and opens to criticism. However, in a stroke of surprise, former world no.6 Nicolas Lapentti said that in his opinion Alcaraz is a much better player than Nadal was at the same age.
‘Alcaraz better than Rafa at many things, but Nadal is best at competing’ – Nicolas Lapentti
Nicolas Lapentti is a former tennis player from Ecuador. He won 5 titles in his career and was ranked no.6 in the world in 2000. He also represented his country in the Olympics. In a recent conversation with Craig Shapiro, Lapentti spoke about the similarities and differences between Alcaraz and Nadal.
“If you can compare Alcaraz to Nadal when they were both 19, Alcaraz is much better in many different things. He serves better than Rafa. From the baseline, he is a bit more aggressive. Rafa was bad with his transition when he was 19 then he started improving a lot and tried to get more aggressive” remarked the Ecuadorian.
He further explained “they move pretty similar. When they have to defend, they are very good – both of them. Then, coming to the net, Alcaraz is much better than where Rafa was at 19. So, in many ways, Alcaraz is better.”
Although he believes that the younger Spaniard is the better player of the two, Lapentti said he wouldn’t predict 20 Grand Slams for Alcaraz. “Nadal has this thing that he’s just the best at competing. Every single point, every single week for the past 20 years. It’s 20 years. I played Rafa in 2003, ok? In Bastad. The first time we played, Rafa was 17. I beat him 7-6 in the third (set). I saved four match points. He was this giant kid, baby face, huge arms fighting like a bull” he explained.