World No. 6 Carlos Alcaraz has been the most exciting player on the Tour this year after having shown glimpses of his talent in the last season. With many expecting the Spaniard to break out this season, he has certainly not disappointed having claimed four Tour titles already, two Masters titles and two ATP-500 titles.
While the debate continues on whether Alcaraz can actually replace Rafael Nadal when the 21-time Grand Slam champion does retire from the sport, Rafa’s uncle and former coach Toni Nadal is assured that Carlitos is meant for special things and the teenager has relieved the Spanish coach that future of Spanish tennis is in good hands.
“Physically he is a marvel, his determination is enviable and technically he has no shortcomings. If a few months ago we talked about the power and speed of his forehand, today we have to mention his dizzying improvement in the backhand, in the serve and in the flying shots. For years I have worried about the void my nephew would likely leave in our sport when he retired – now I am convinced that this gap will be completely filled.
“Today I don’t see any player of the so-called NextGen who can overshadow him. One lacks mentality, another has problems with pushing, some with a backhand, others with tournaments on clay and almost all with continuity and determination. No matter how good tennis players are, and some are, I think none of them have the full characteristics that Alcaraz combines,” said Toni in his recent interview with El Pais.
Carlos Alcaraz one spot away from Rafael Nadal in the ATP Rankings
Alcaraz was ranked outside the Top-30 at the start of the season and is now a place away from breaking into the Top-5 in the rankings. The 5th spot is currently being held by Rafa and given Alcaraz’s exploits this season, he might pip the ‘King of Clay’ and rise further in the rankings.
Rafa was ranked 4th before Stefanos Tsitsipas exchanged places with him after a runner-up finish in the 2022 Rome Masters where Rafa was the defending champion. With 5525 points, Rafa is in the 5th spot in the rankings while Alcaraz sits 6th in the rankings with 4770 points. With both Rafa and Alcaraz now set to play in the 2022 French Open, an overhaul in rankings can be expected as both the Spaniards are favourites for the Grand Slam in Paris.