Mats Wilander, the former world number 1, believes that it’s not fair for the pundits and fans, in general, to disregard the youngsters in terms of them being a contender for Roland-Garros. Wilander himself won the 1982 French Open at the age of 17, and he also became the youngest man in history to win four Grand Slam singles titles at the age of 20.
The new generation of players like Carlos Alcaraz is more than capable of winning a Slam in their teen years. Emma Raducanu, aged 18 at the time has done it in the US Open, she became the first tennis player on both men’s and women’s sides to have won the US Open as a qualifier. While Carlos Alcaraz is one of the main players to look out for in the French Open 2022.
Wilander agrees that there is a lot of additional pressure on the teenagers in the current scenario. He said:
“I think the world is pushing people in that direction, yes. The world and the world of tennis media seem to believe there’s something you have to learn along the way.”
“That there’s [something] that there’s no way you could have learned when you were 12, 13, 14, or that you have to have been born with a certain attitude. It’s a very shallow assumption to think just because you’re 18 you’re not mature enough to enter the real world.”
Mats Wilander believes that the youngsters have the right attitude.
Wilander said that the variety and range of tournament winners at present make it a very interesting time for tennis. He said:
“We’re digging and stirring things up and saying that it’s amazing that you can be 18 or 19 and you already know how to [compete]. I think it’s a good thing we have 19-year-olds who can win Slams and 37, 38-year-olds who can win Slams. This is very healthy for the sport.”
Wilander acknowledged that youngsters like Alcaraz and Raducanu lack the expertise and experience of players who have been pros for more than a decade. But he believes that they have certain mitigating factors like emotions with them too. He said:
“An emotional state is an emotional state. It doesn’t mean that Alcaraz has the knowledge, doesn’t mean he has the experience. It just means his mind is in a place where most people never get to.”
“Because we think we can get there through learning and knowledge, maturity whatever. He’s already there, he has the right outlook on life. He’s positive [but] not expecting perfection.”
About Raducanu Wilander said:
“Emma Raducanu has that right attitude as well. She’s not winning at the moment, [but] she dealt with the US Open the way that we hope every person can deal with adversity. That is, no fear, calm, and fighting on.”
“Fight on, try different things. That’s it, simple.”
Wilander believes that with the right attitudes that these young players have, it’s possible for them to break the wheel and earn some major titles. More importantly, having the right attitudes help the young player become a stronger tennis player as they become more mature and experienced. While Carlos Alcaraz will be looking for his first Grand Slam on clay, Raducanu too will be looking for a good run in France with some hopes for the title.