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From 'Tough' To Triumphs, How Alcaraz Embraced The Biggest Stages
Carlos Alcaraz’s historic rise on the ATP Tour has often put him under bright lights and on the biggest stages of the sport. Now the 20-year-old will face a new spotlight, being the top seed at a Grand Slam for the first time, at Roland Garros. While Alcaraz has made his breakthrough look easy, the Spaniard admitted that it has come with challenges.
The World No. 1 stated that being on the 'big stage' is something he needed to grow accustomed to.
“At the beginning when I played against the best [players], in the best stadiums, it was tough for me to get used to that and to stay calm,” Alcaraz said in his pre-tournament press conference. “But I learned from those moments. I remember against Rafa for my first time in Madrid, it was really, really tough. I can name a lot of matches that I didn't feel comfortable playing on that.
“But as I said, I learned from that, and I always wanted to play in those stadiums, in those tournaments, and I tried to feel comfortable playing on that. Right now I feel great playing in the great stadiums.”
Alcaraz has shown nerves of steel rather than fear on the big stages, such as last year's US Open, where he claimed his maiden Grand Slam title in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium. He later became the youngest year-end No. 1 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings.
In 2022, Alcaraz was a quarter-finalist at Roland Garros. When asked how his game today compares to a year ago, the World No. 1 stated his improvements have been more in the mental side of the game.
“I would say I'm the same player as last year, only change that I would say is that I'm more mature. Mentally I'm better,” Alcaraz said. “I can read what happened on court better than last year. For me, it's really, really important, and I would say it's the most different than last year.”
Boasting a 30-3 season record, Alcaraz has claimed four titles this year: Buenos Aires, Indian Wells, Barcelona, Madrid. After a disappointing third-round exit at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome, Alcaraz enjoyed some downtime before preparing for his quest for a second Grand Slam title.
“I played golf one day, of course had time with friends, family. Quality time at home is really helpful for me,” Alcaraz said. “I took some days off. Doing nothing, just chilling.
“I had like five days practising in the academy at home. That is really helpful for me, to be away from tournaments a little bit, have more intensity practice. [This year] I didn't have more than four days to practise, just to play matches and matches, and for me [it was good to] have this time to prepare for Roland Garros as good as I did these past days.”
In the Roland Garros opening round, Alcaraz will face Italian qualifier Flavio Cobolli. Alcaraz won their lone meeting at the ATP Challenger Tour event in Todi, Italy in 2020.
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