Born to play Grand Slam finals, Carlos Alcaraz has only reached 60 percent of his potential, according to coach Juan Carlos Ferrero.
Ferrero, a former world No. 1, has worked with 19-year-old Alcaraz since he was 15 and oversaw his rapid rise to the top of the game.
That was crowned on Sunday when he defeated Casper Ruud in the US Open final to win his first Grand Slam title and become the youngest-ever men’s No. 1 in history.
Ferrero watched proudly from the stands at Flushing Meadows and then made no attempt to downplay the proclamations of greatness bestowed on his protégé.
“Carlos, I think he was born to play these types of tournaments, born to play these types of matches,” said the Spaniard.
“From the moment I started with him, I’ve seen some things that were different from other guys his age. I still see it on the pitch. In important moments he always tries to go (for it).
“That’s one of the harder things in tennis, even in its first Grand Slam final. He’s a great competitor. he is there He tries all the time.”
Alcaraz expressed surprise at winning his first Grand Slam title so quickly, but Ferrero, the 2003 French Open winner, wasn’t shocked.
“No, because I know his level,” he said. “Of course that happens very quickly. It’s a surprise for everyone except maybe me because I’ve been training with him every day and I know what he can do on the pitch.
“I was pretty sure if it wasn’t this year it might be next. I’m very glad about that. It was quick, but now we really want to keep going.”
Alcaraz’s position at the top of the rankings has quirks, like the decision not to award ranking points to Wimbledon and Novak Djokovic, who don’t play at the Australian Open or US Open, but nobody in tennis questions whether he’s the real deal is .
The 19-year-old has no apparent weaknesses in his game and his competitive spirit was demonstrated by the three nightly five-set matches he played to reach the final.
However, Ferrero believes Alcaraz can still improve and says: “I think he’s got 60 percent of his game. He knows and I know that we have to keep working.
“Once you hit #1, it’s not done. You have to keep working, keep playing at a high level to keep winning.
“The players will now be very motivated to play against him. It’s like Real Madrid-Barcelona, there is a rivalry that makes you want to raise your level. He has to be ready.”
Alcaraz’s movement impressed more than anything as the teenager tracked down seemingly impossible shots and maintained his speed and stamina in epic fights.
Ferrero said with a smile: “When he entered the academy at 15, he was like spaghetti. We had to work. Obviously we saw that he had very fast hands, very fast legs, but no muscles at all, not in his back, not in his legs.”
Beaten finalist Ruud, who now sits second behind Alcaraz, believes the teenager is a combination of Rafael Nadal and Djokovic.
“He’s very fast,” said the Norwegian. “He’s a great mover. He can reach balls that we’ve probably never seen before.
“Rafa, when he was Carlos’ age, he was similar too. He tracked everything. Novak, the same with its flexibility. He gets to certain shots where you’re like, “How is that even possible?”
“Carlos has a kind of mixture of both. He is fast, flexible. He can slide around. It is impressive. He’s a tough nut to crack.”
Having won three Grand Slams together this season, it would certainly be premature to write off Nadal and Djokovic just yet, but the US Open was a glimpse into the future of tennis.
Ferrero named 21-year-old Jannik Sinner, against whom Alcaraz saved a match point in the match of the tournament in the quarterfinals, as the player he expects to be his husband’s biggest rival.
“From what I saw recently, maybe Sinner and Carlos could dominate the tour for the next 10 years,” he said.
Finally, on whether Alcaraz can match the extraordinary records set by Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer, Ferrero added: “My goal is to bring him to the high level of tennis.
“Of course I think it will be very, very difficult to achieve what they have achieved. We’re talking about 22 Grand Slams. He only has one. There’s still a long way to go.
“But who knows? I think he has all tennis and the potential to be one of the best. We just have to try it.”
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/tennis/carlos-alcaraz-jannik-sinner-casper-ruud-novak-djokovic-rafael-nadal-b2165625.html US Open winner Carlos Alcaraz has only 60 percent of his potential, the trainer claims