At four in the afternoon, when the sun melts the ice creams of Paris and beats down on the Roland Garros complex, a long line of fans waits for security to pass them on the outside of Track 12 because that’s where they are inside something important is brewing: Carlos Alcaraz –Caglos For most of them, because of the French – the 18-year-old boy who has been talking about for a long time and whose name rings out strongly in the world of tennis, shows all his self-confidence, his evolution and his insulting precociousness to beat Bernabé Zapata (6-3, 2-6, 6-1 and 7-6 (4) and mark a new turn in a career that looks very good: with 18 years and 26 days on his DNI, he is already the youngest player in achieve her first win in the tournament since Novak Djokovic, who signed her at 18 years and three days in the 2005 edition.
Alcaraz opens and the expectation is great. For this reason, the Argentine Horacio Zeballos, the Malaga-born Alejandro Davidovich, the Catalan Carlos Martínez (Daria Kasatkina’s coach) and other well-known faces come to check from the front line if the boy, the boy – some members of the wardrobe call him in an affectionate tone -, it is as promising as they say. It is, they surely think, because down there the Murcian performs with the same arguments that he has been using since he dazzled in the lower stages; that is, dynamism, punch, courage. A good compendium of powers that ends up giving Zapata, 24, and highlights one of the most attractive exponents of the new batch of players.
It comes as a shot Alcaraz. Far from the harmful parallels with Rafael Nadal, the only one, he continues to burn stages at cruising speed and this Monday he secured a victory, the first in Paris, which places him even ahead of the Majorcan -18 years, 11 months and 20 days when he beat Lars Burgsmüller in 2005 – when it comes to haste. “The only thing I notice is that these types of games help me to grow as a player, to know how to suffer on the court and endure a long time. I don’t give much importance to being more or less young; in fact, when Rafa won his first game here, he won the tournament, so… ”, he reduces to the journalists, sending the message again that he intends to build his own path, and that there is only one Nadal.
Last year, he was resisted the reward of entering the main draw of the major French because he was overly nervous in the first qualifying match, against Aleksandar Vukic; He did not fail, however, earlier this year in Australia, where he won his first Grand Slam victory (against Botic Van de Zandschulp from the Netherlands) and began to learn the codes of the big stages.
“Hopefully it will be the first of many, I have many Roland Garros to play. Today I have beaten a friend, and that cannot be forgotten ”, he says in the telematic conference with journalists, gradually improving with English and getting used to the cameras; interacting naturally and with that flat and humble profile that stand out from his team, everyone proud during the game from one of the backgrounds, cheering him on non-stop: from Juan Carlos Ferrero, his coach, to his agent, Albert Molina.
“Come on, come on!” He shouts loudly, expressive every time he achieves a meritorious point or escapes from a risky situation, because Zapata demands and squeezes him all the time. But he comes out gracefully, shows his fist and gestures; he clenches his fist and his right arm inflates the veins and muscles that he has been working so hard for a year. “I have had two tough preseason and they are helping me a lot. I think I have made a huge leap in the physical issue, and that is very important to endure these types of games, “he says before rewinding and remembering that at the age of 12 he was already playing in Paris, but not at Roland Garros.
“It was under the Eiffel Tower. I remember how far I stayed, it was very special, one of the few trips I made outside of Spain at that age. I had the opportunity to come see a game at the [pista] Suzanne Lenglen, one of Gasquet ”, closes as virtual 82nd in the world, after shining with her own light on a day in which Pedro Martínez (6-4, 6-2 and 6-2 to Korda) and Jaume Munar have also progressed (6-7, 6-1, 7-6 and 6-4 to Thompson). On the contrary, the Spanish women’s roster remains blank with the defeats of Garbiñe Muguruza (6-1 and 6-4 against Marta Kostuyk), Sara Sorribes (4-6, 6-4 and 6-4 against Zheng) and Lara Arruabarrena (6-2 and 6-3 for Gracheva).